4 Traps to Avoid as a Blogger

Writing is a great way to express your thoughts and opinions. You can get them all out at one time and not be interrupted in the process. You can change your words, replay them, and portray them as you would have said them in person. When I started writing this blog, I noticed several things that I was doing that was hindering the success of this page. Here are 4 traps that I had to avoid in order to get to where I am today. They are;

  1. Comparing Your Blog to Another Blogger. It is easy to get trapped in the game of comparison. Whenever you see another blog exploding with exposure, you want to know their secrets. You see their numbers. You see their success. The main problem with this is that you miss out on the potential that you have when you try to compare and replicate what someone else has done.  Sure, you can try but it won’t be the same. People will not see the authenticity of your work and instead, they will see the work of someone else.
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  2. Creating Content to be Famous Instead of Famously Creating Content. After we try to replicate other people’s success, we tend to try to create content for the sake of being famous. The problem with this is that when we take this step in our writing, we try to make ourselves something we are not. We lose ourselves in the work. When creating content, it must come from the heart and not someone else’s work. I tried for a while to replicate the type of content that Jon Acuff did. The problem with that is that I am not Jon Acuff. My content must reflect who I am.
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  3. Watching the Analytic Views. Every single day. It is easy to get caught up in reading the analytics of who saw your blog and when they saw it. It is great to have these metrics to know when to post and to plan. However, we often will look at these on a daily basis and instead of it being a tool to build our blog, it becomes a measuring stick to our identity. Watching your analytics every single day will drive you crazy!
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  4. Taking Advice From Every Tom, Dick, and/or Harry. Every person who is willing to give advice will give you conflicting advice. What Tom says will not be the same as Harry. Harry will give you horrible advice where Dick will give you advice that could make you millions. The advice you get will not be the same. Typically, they are polar opposites. It is great to have a mentor who will help you grow and will allow you to bounce ideas off of. Simply, you cannot rely on multiple individuals and have a successful blog.

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These obviously are not all of the pitfalls of writing a blog. There are plenty more that can sink your work. However, these are four that I personally had to fight. What other pitfalls have you seen?

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Book Review | Enduring Trials God’s Way

Scott LaPierre’s best-selling and award-winning book, Enduring Trials God’s Way is a great study on how to 51qioXXpOOLbiblically stand during life’s hardest trials.  Throughout the book, Pastor LaPierre speaks about the many characters through the Bible that went through trials and how they came out on the other end. From endurance bringing joy to endurance bringing perseverance, Pastor breaks down the meaning behind the many faces of disappointment and pain. I truly enjoy each chapter with a Q&A section that makes it easy for you or a group to break down what one has learned. In addition, these are easy, practical ways to overcome some of life’s most difficult times. Obvious to the regular student of the Word, Pastor talks about the trials of Job, but he doesn’t end there. He goes through David, Saul, Paul, and the list goes on and on. One thing that really stood out was Pastor’s personal account of tragedy and heartache. For me, this is pivotal because you can trust his account simply knowing he went through it. No – I am not going to tell you about it. You will have to buy the book for yourself.

You can buy it on SALE! Buy Now!

This video is an advertisement from ScottLaPierre.org.

You can read my review of his latest book, A Father Offers His SonYou can check out any of Pastor Scott LaPierre’s books at https://scottlapierre.org/books/

Book Review | Activating the Power of God’s Word

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Kyle Winkler is no stranger to the power of God’s word and the message behind it.  Featured on TBNIt’s Supernatural, and many different programs across the globe.  Traveling the world while teaching the word of God and instilling hope to the hopeless, Kyle has written this book to reach out to those who struggle with believing that God’s word is true, full of life, and active.

In this new book, Activating the Power of God’s Word, Kyle reveals the power of behind being able to speak the Word, believe the Word, and act on the Word. At the end of each chapter, Kyle offers a way to active the word whether it is knowing that you are a new creation in Christ or enjoying your everyday life. Unlike most authors in this genre, Kyle does not just write down the words to say that these things are true or even propose a false expose, he has lived it day in and day out. He talks not only about the characters of the Bible who actively walked through it, he tells his story.

One thing that I really enjoyed about this book is that each chapter includes a website that has a video teaching with it. Each teaching tackles the topic that he speaks on in the book which is a plus. In addition, the YouVersion app includes a 6-day daily devotional for absolutely free!

Finally, this is perhaps one of the best things I loved about this book. Being an established author, most find themselves repeating themselves from prior books. This is not the case. Kyle does not offer the same information as he did in Silence Satan I appreciate that because when I read an established author, this is my common complaint.

You can pick up Kyle’s book wherever books are sold. However, the best place to grab it is at kylewinkler.org/amazon!

You Are Destined For Success

You are not destined to be impoverished. You are destined to succeed in all that you do. God has destined you to move forward and not backward.  God has purposed you to be successful. In Genesis, He instructed mankind to go and “take dominion of the earth and subdue it” Often we hear this  and at first, we don’t believe it. Then we try to do it all on our own. Which is followed by failure. The only problem is that we were not designed to do it on our own. He did not say to go and do these things without the wherewithal to do so. God has given us the tools to do so.

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We have to stop and take a look at these tools that have been given to us knowing that He is helping us to get there.  It is just like the turtle that is found on top of a pole. We all know that the turtle did not get there on his own. The same is for you on your journey to your destiny.

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God did not have you go and be successful without His hand in it. In the Bible, it says that He has prospered the work of your hands not that you would do so. It does not say that you can do all things but instead that you “have the strength to do all things in Christ.”  Knowing that God is amongst us to help us be successful in all that we do is just proof that He wants us and desires us to be wealthy in all that we do.

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Now, when I write this I may get some feedback. We frequently get caught up in how God will make us wealthy instead of the fact that He makes us wealthy in many different ways.  God did not define the amount of the blessing, He just said He would do it.  He says you will be the head and not the tail. With these things and more, He will help you to be successful.

God has not only destined you to be successful but to wealthy and successful, to be healthy and successful, to be joyful and successful. It is important to know that those tools are available to you to help you are not only easily accessible, but it is all free to you to use!

Book Review | The Alchemist

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This book truly took me by surprise when I began reading it. I wasn’t sure if I would like it and had even contemplated on not reading it at all. It was in chapter 2 that I began to see the point of this book.

This is a great allegory of a man was challenged to find out what the meaning of his life was. So often, we go through the very same steps as the main character, Santiago. This is a tale of a young man who fought the forces of deception, discouragement, matters of the heart, and so much more. The author allows the reader to come along on this journey with great detail and life lessons for the reader. Santiago was once a shepherd and dreamt dreams that would lead him to his destiny. With the help of a king, he would learn great wisdom and allow him to walk alongside many other characters. I don’t want to ruin it for you…grab this book today!

 This book is listed in multiple book lists of Life Changing Books.

3 Reasons to Vote in Every Election

Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Voting is one of the foundational privileges that every American has and the right has been given to them to do so. The American citizen has the authority to vote their values in each election every 2 to 4 years. Often, we deprive ourselves of that right not making the time or taking the energy to go out and put in our two cents into the government.

Reason 1. Voting in the Off Years is Vital to our Government. Often, citizens do not vote in the elections that do not have anything to do with the President of the United States. The problem with is that the President is only 1/3 of the governmental body and only makes certain decisions whereas the House and Senate vote on certain laws to be passed. If you only vote for one office, you neglect the others.

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Reason 2. You Cannot Complain if You Don’t Vote.  The conversation is a one-sided conversation when it comes to our democracy if you don’t vote. You lose the opportunity to voice your opinion about what matters to you. Sure, it may not matter to you right now. But there will come a time when you will look at your paycheck in disgust when you see how much is taken out or when you look at the property tax bill and wonder where in the world all that money is going.

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Reason 3. Every Vote Counts. Really. In the election of 1876, it was a highly contentious race where it came down to literally one vote. Democrat Samuel Tilden and Republican Rutherford B. Hayes were running for President of the United States. The final result was a political and legal fight in the court where 20 electoral votes were disputed which threw the election in the air. If Rutherford B Hayes got the 20 votes, he would win by 1 vote. If Samuel Tilden got them, he would win uncontested. At the end of the legal battle, Hayes won by 1 vote.  Though this is a rarity, the point is that every vote counts.

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At the end of the day, our votes count in every election. There are plenty of people in the world that do not have the free right to vote. Get out and vote to show the world that your vote matters!

 

A Moment Away

I took a few days off of social media to focus on the exam that I had to take. In 2017, my career changed to IT and in the world of IT, there is never an end to taking tests.  Honestly, I am okay with it. I love to learn and love keeping my mind fresh. The reason I took off a few days was not only to study but to keep my focus on the task at hand. It is easy to get distracted with what people say or do and try to match our experiences up with theirs. The problem is that we often get so wrapped up in other people that we take our focus off of the goal.

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Think about this, if we are at an archery range and we are getting ready to shoot the arrow. We pull the arrow back and aim at the target when all of a sudden a deer runs across our path. What happens? Our focus is taken off of the target and we shoot the arrow in the wrong direction.

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Take a moment and think about what you want to with your life. Is what you are doing right now directing you into that path? Or is it distracting you from it? Over the past few weeks, I have had to reevaluate a few things when it came to the goal at hand. I had to remove social media and keep silent certain things. It may be a bit much for some, but I believe it is vital in planning for your future.

What are you removing today to help you focus?

 

Focusing In…Extended

In my previous post, I talked about the need to focus in on the plan that God has for us. Afterward, I had a few more thoughts on it while I was reading a devotional. The devotional was by Brittany Rust entitled “Epic Fails” which is about men and women in the Bible who failed at some point in their journey but that God used them even though they failed. It would have been easy for these people to have focused on their failures, but instead chose to focus on what was ahead of them according to the promises of God.

The problem when we take our focus off of the goal, we end up with some pretty unsavory situation. When our focus is taken off of what God has for us, we end up with Bathsheba. When our focus is taken off of what God has for us, we end up with Ishmael.  When our focus is taken off of what God has for us, we end up with Saul.

If we take our eyes off of the prize, we end up with situations that are destructive instead of the goodness that God has for us. We are not guaranteed that we won’t be tempted throughout our walk with God. We, however, are guaranteed that He will make a way out.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV 

When all of this is said and done, we can change our focus from the problem to the solution. What are you doing to change your focus today?

 

Book Review | Team of Rivals

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Team of Rivals | Doris Kearns Goodwin

The first thing that you need to know is that this book is full of great, historical information of Abraham Lincoln’s political background from his time prior to the nomination through his assassination. The second thing is that you will notice plenty of similarities on the political climates of Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton, Obama, and Trump. The third thing is that this book is a long book. It is not a sit down on a Saturday afternoon type of book because of its length. I was amazed at the amount of detail that Goodwin portrayed all throughout the book. It characterized Lincoln as a human being who was prone to deep thought and jubilant conversations. Very few would say that this book was a 3 star. It is a 5 star even with the amount of content. Grab your copy today!

Focusing In…

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Philippians 3:13-14 NLT

In my recent post, I wrote about being able to sift through the disappointments and to find the joy through it. After the fact, I had an interesting thought come to mind. What if the disappointments in life are really a distraction?

Follow me on this. When we have a disappointment, we often focus on the disappointment instead of keeping our focus on the goal that is at hand. We can be on the path of greatness and have disappointments coming across our path; it is what we do with that disappointment that matters the most.

From a Christian viewpoint, the Bible tells us that the devil has a goal to kill, steal, and destroy.” To accomplish this goal, he will find ways to distract you. He will put people in your path to distract you. He will put adversity in your way to distract you. He will even put disappointment in your vision to distract you. If not careful, you will find yourself so focused on the disappointment that you lose sight of the goal. You lose sight of what your original intent was. We then have no vision.

I am challenging myself that when disappointments come up in life (and they will), to put my sights on what lies ahead and not what is behind me. I have an exam coming up and any distractions that are in my way, I have removed them. I have even removed Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. so that my focus will be on the exam. I cannot look behind. I have to look ahead.

Remember…”don’t look back for you are not going that way.”

Sifting Through Disappointments

 

Before writing this blog, something happened that I hate. Something brought up old wounds. Something brought up the pain. Disappointment reemerged in my heart. The problem with disappointment is that so often we let it run our lives. We hold onto it like a long lost puppy or a valuable treasure only to have it let us down yet again. I had to face this disappointment yet again in my life.

You see, for as long as I can remember I had a dream. This dream was to open a full-service coffee shop that would be the living room of our community. All people would be welcome, the community would be served, and great coffee would flow. I truly believed that God wanted me to have this vision in my heart. Yet, it hasn’t come to pass. I drew up the plans, approached people, asked for help, etc. I did it all only to be led to disappointment. The money never came, the support dwindled next to nothing, and everything else took precedence. The dream has temporarily died. It is a disappointment.

Today I saw on Facebook a new place was coming to town that would be a coffee shop. Again, my heart was disappointed. The thing about disappointment is that we are led to believe that we have to bury it down and never express that feeling. However, I don’t believe that is what God would want from us. I believe that He desires for us to sift through that disappointment and still see His goodness through it all.

So, I sifted through the disappointment. I prayed. I thought. And I read. It was then that my bible was opened to Psalms 16:9-11 ‘ Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.’

My joy is not in the circumstance. It is not in the dream. It is not in the ability to gain wealth. My joy is in His presence and He has made known to me the path of life. When you sift through that disappointment, look for the good. Look for God in the middle of it. Am I still disappointed? Yes. I am doing everything in my power to not give up on my dream and hold onto Him.

Job and Murphy’s Law

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”
– Murphy’s Law

Sara and I at one point in our marriage… okay, let’s be realistic, the vast majority of the time that we have been married, have lived the definition of Murphy’s Law. In fact, Murphy was our long lost relative that found us right before we decided to get married. I believe that he moved into the basement of our first home in Millstadt, Illinois. Perhaps he traveled with us to Memphis when we went to visit family when the transmission went out. Maybe he discovered the meaning of the neighbors from… perhaps you get the point.

I remember our pastor speaking at our wedding stated that we would be ones that would show people that our marriage would last. For better or for worse, in sickness or in health, for richer or for poorer, until death do us part. Those vows would become a test of reality for us in our marriage. With that, we were tested by the enemy’s attack. We were tempted to go into debt. We were tempted to live above our means. It was a battle.

By now, you may wonder why am I bringing all of these things up and mentioning Murphy and the law with his namesake. Perhaps we can go back to the origin of this law. Murphy’s law has been around for centuries under different names. It wasn’t until the 20th century that this law would be given a name. Author Arthur Bloch wrote “The Law’s namesake was Capt. Ed Murphy, a development engineer from Wright Field Aircraft Lab. Frustration with a strap transducer which was malfunctioning due to an error in wiring the strain gage bridges caused him to remark – “If there is any way to do it wrong, he will” – referring to the technician who had wired the bridges at the Lab. I assigned Murphy’s Law to the statement and the associated variations.”

In Romans 8:28, we read that “all things God works for good for those who love Him.”  I often believe that God would use the things we have gone through to encourage the people around us to never give up or to never quit. As the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, we learned that “slow and steady” wins the race and the race is called life. Often, we turn to the story of Job when we are going through the difficulties of life.

In Job’s time, Murphy wasn’t around. Between the man being called righteous to his whole world being destroyed, Job had a rough time excepting the fact that he wasn’t hearing from God during his trial. Cursing the day that he was born, Job would be surrounded by his wife who called him to “curse God and die”, three friends, and a pity party. With friends like these, who needs enemies?  I don’t make light of the pain that Job was going through. He had just lost all of his family and was being plagued with sickness.  But Job learned quickly towards the end the sovereignty of God and His presence.

Though Job experienced Murphy’s law, he came out the other end completely restored with double what he lost. While you are going through the laws that seem to be against you, just remember that even though we have them, we do not have to remain in them. There is a reward all at the end of it all.

Book Review | Rediscovering God in America

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I picked up this book at a book sale at our local library on a hunch that it would be a great book. This book was more than a great book. For me, it took me through the heart of our nation’s capital through each monument and significant landmark showing the connection between those reminders and the fact of our Judeo Christan roots. It is not a mere history book, but a book that is full of pictures, history, and reminders of what our nation was founded on. From the Washington Monument to the World War II memorial to the White House to the Library of Congress, Gingrich will walk you through the most important pieces of our history. You won’t want to miss this!  Grab your copy today!

3 Phrases to Remove From Your Vocabulary Today

 

“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. ”
Proverbs 18:21 NLT

Success is not only birthed in what we do but also what we say.  We pave the way to success with the words that we speak. Just the same, destruction is paved by the words that we speak.  In order to succeed in life, we must remove three destructive phrases from our vocabulary.

  1. I will never.  Henry Ford said it best, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you are right.” We have to break free from this phrase and replace it with I will. The building block of success is to first to remove the “I will never” out of the vocabulary. This is the point where it is important to change your process of speaking and thinking. Begin to find ways that you can accomplish the goals that you want to complete. If there is an obstacle, find a way to overcome it. There is always a way out of the “I will never trap.”
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  2. I am broke. Let’s not deny reality. We all have times that we struggle with money. However, parading it around in our vocabulary will not attract positive people. In fact, it is a turn-off.  Naming and claiming it isn’t what I am saying either. However, I am saying that when you remove the “I am broke” from your vocabulary, it will attract people and opportunities that are not. We had a friend say that they keep a dollar in the back of their wallet because that tells them that they are never broke.
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  3. If I don’t expect anything good, I won’t be disappointed. This one plagued me for years. Disappointment after disappointment made me jaded. In my post, Forgive me while I try not to be cynical, I talk about the struggle that I have about being a cynic. Honestly, it is easier to believe nothing good will happen. That is no way to live. Being hopeless is pointless. Trade the gift of cynism with the gift of faith.
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The key to success is to replace any negative thought and words with something positive. Our mind and our mouths have great power. I have heard it said, “I would rather believe something good will happen and receive something small than to rather believe nothing good will happen and receive that.”

I have written about three phrases to remove. What phrases do you think you should remove? Why?

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5 Things That I Learned From The Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation

Over the past three months, our country has been in a constant state of chaos with the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court decision. First, I want to preface this in stating that I was an early advocate for the Judge and believe that he will make great judicial, non-partisan decisions, and judge according to the Constitution as written. Second, leaving nasty comments or emails regarding my opinion will not change my mind. These are my thoughts and what I believe is the foundation of my life.

As I followed these proceedings, I saw several key learning opportunities in what transpired.

  1. You Catch More Flies With Honey. The vitriol that transpired through the news cycles, the Senate Judiciary Hearings, and Social Media just show that people that are fed up with being yelled at and their minds are not changed by harsh tones and yelling. No one mind was changed by someone screaming at them.
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  2. Your Feelings Do Not Change Facts. Though this goes along with the previous entry, it also is the truth. You may feel that someone is categorically wrong and you’re upset about it. This does not change the truth, however. You may have strong feelings about our President. It doesn’t change the truth – he is still our President.
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  3. Your Past Is Not Realy Behind You. Be careful about what you do today for it may come to light tomorrow. This little fact really struck home during this hearing. I am not the only one who double checked the past to make sure there were no skeletons in my closet.
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  4. The Mob Does Not Rule In Our Government. This really bothered me. All throughout these proceedings, I saw the protest. Protests in themselves are not bad. I am all for speaking your voice. I, however, found it disturbing while seeing grown people chase down our Senators and other government officials while yelling and screaming the vilest things about them and about their families. All through this process, people were making death threats, causing damage to property, and disregarding the safety of others because they wanted to make a point.
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  5. Never Give Up.  This may be an unpopular thought. I personally think that it is amazing that Brett Kavanaugh never gave up. It would have been easier to quit and give up because he had such opposition. He kept moving forward and persevered.
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The biggest take away from this was this; the Golden Rule should be bi-partisan. Whether you are a Democrat, an Independent, Republican, or any other political party, you deserve to be treated the way that others would want to be treated. 

 

Finally, if you are unhappy with the current political climate, it is time for you to VOTE!

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When Enough is Never Enough

In a previous post, Why People Hate Politics, I wrote about the perils of the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings that have taken place over the past several months. Since my post, an FBI investigation was opened in regards to the allegations that were put against him. There was a call for a hearing. The hearing occurred. There was an FBI investigation requested. One was provided. Now – it isn’t enough. Those oppose this nominee are now stating that they don’t have enough time to complete the task, let’s move it out further.

It bears to question; when is enough ever enough? In the eyes of the ones that are against the values of Americans, it is never enough. Americans are getting more and more tired of the politics of today where you are guilty until you are proven innocent where you are still guilty. What do I mean? Kavanaugh has been accused of a heinous crime. Horrible. However, there has been no corroborated proof that it happened. Though this is the case, he cannot serve as a professor at Harvard Law. Why? People feel threatened. People feel that he had committed this crime without being proven guilty.

When will enough be enough? Honestly, I believe that it will never be enough. I hate to say that for these people. I also believe that we can change this tidal wave. On Tuesday, November 6, you can make that change by voting. Get out and vote! Don’t allow your values to become silent because you decided to not get up and vote. Don’t allow your point of view become unimportant because you decided to stay at home on election day. More than ever, this election cycle is vital to our country.

I implore you. Get out and vote your values on November 6th!

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The Reason Why People Hate Politics

This past week was one of great contention. The news cycle was filled with the drama that unfolded in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing regarding Judge Brett Kavanaugh being confirmed to the Supreme Court. The 11th-hour revelation regarding an incident that is reported to have taken place nearly 40 years ago began to tear through the hearing. After 10 days of waiting and 10 days of watching a man who has devoted his life to integrity be torn apart, we finally got the accused and the accuser in a meeting.

Let me start off saying this; there are multiple victims in this situation. The family and friends of Judge Kavanaugh, Dr. Ford and her family, and the country as a whole. Innocent people who did not want to be a part of this charade are now forever marred by it. My heart aches for them.

The problem that I have had with this whole situation is this; a man’s life has been torn apart without proof of guilt. Yes – we have a person stating that he did some horrible things. I am not saying he didn’t do it. I wasn’t there. What I am saying is that without strong evidence, he has had his reputation and his family’s name dragged through the mud.

The other problem that I have with this whole situation is this; a woman’s life has been torn apart without proof of guilt. Let me explain. In the beginning, she asked to remain anonymous. She stated that she did not want to come forward. Now, we could all bicker and fight about if she legitimately wanted to remain private about it. That’s not what I am saying at all. What I am saying is that this person’s pain was exploited in my opinion. People dragged her name through the mud.

As a father, I would want my children to be heard on both sides of the coin. If they were abused, they should have the right and ability to speak about it. If they were the accused, I would want them to have the freedom to defend themselves and state their case being innocent until proven guilty.

As a father, I would want my children to be able to defend their name and state their case without fear that people will declare them guilty by a simple accusation.  I would not wish my worst enemy to have gone through what these people have gone through.

This leads me to why I wrote this article. The reason people hate politics is that there is no equal opportunity in our system. For example, we have had multiple leaders in our country who committed adultery and lived a life of sin yet got away with it. It was proven that they did.  Then we have a person who is being accused of a heinous crime, however, there is no corroborating evidence to show that it occurred.

People hate politics because of the hypocrisy that happens in our government. It is for this reason that millions won’t vote. They either don’t believe that their vote will count or that all elected officials are crooks. But honestly, it is for this reason that they need to vote! Sure, I hate certain vegetables, but for the good of my body, I eat them. The same goes for our politics. We have to be involved in our politics to even consider making a difference in our courtrooms, in our Senate and House of Representatives, in our Mayoral and Gubernatorial races, and in our local government.

The disgrace that has been displayed these past few months in these hearings for the Supreme Court is the perfect reason that you and I should get out there in November and vote!

 

 

 

Book Review|Smart Money, Smart Kids

51PzsNgYJfL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_I was driving home the other day from school and was listening to a cd on leadership when I heard the speaker talk about a Simon Sinek book called Start with Why. As a parent, you and I know about that three-letter curse word because we have heard it from the mouth of our children over and over again. It’s the question that has no answer sometimes. And there are times that it has an answer but that answer gives you three shades of red because it’s just that funny. I have to wonder though, do your children have a concept that you and I lose as we grow up?

Sinek talks about the motives of people and their leadership in their book and simply put, behind everything there is a why.  Why are you yelling at your kids to stop putting their fingers in the light socket? Why are you telling your kids to not lick the floor in the grocery aisle? Why do you feel the urge to slam every light switch in the house to off after some little being walks in every room to turn them on? Why?

As Sara and I began our journey to debt freedom, we found ourselves saying that we would love that our children never get into debt like we were when we got married. In that, we got Financial Peace Jr. and I ordered the book by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze called Smart Money, Smart Kids. It was here that I had to ask myself this question because I know my kids are going to ask it as we go through this journey…. Why?

I have to admit, though it can be a curse word in our house, it is an important question that we must ask ourselves when to do something.  I recently was asked if we could attend a teaching from a great teacher that we enjoy. I was exhausted and had been gone all week. I stopped for a moment and asked, Why am I going to this meeting? The answer was simply out of obligation. So I opted not to go because our whole family was worn out.

The question of Why is an important one to ask when doing something or even giving something. Our motives and our heart are important especially when it comes to our kids. Sara and I are working on our kids to teach them how to manage money. Why? The answer is simple…the Bible says to leave a legacy and ours is one of freedom.

When Your Mess Becomes Your Message

I don’t know about you all but I love a great story. I enjoy seeing how the plot lines up with the action followed by the adventure ending with success! I guess that is why I absolutely enjoy this new book by Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruz. It’s a story of success after a pile of garbage was put beneath their feet. Anyone who listens to Dave Ramsey or has read any of his books knows his story. Broke as a teenager, he learned how to use his skills in the real estate to become a multi-millionaire only to lose it like a house of cards in a tornado. Something you will never hear him do is complain about what he went through. Most often, you hear people who call into his show with a “woe is me” mentality. Instead of using that for his defeat, he used his story to spread a message of hope. Now, in an effort to save another generation from his stupidity, he is bringing millions along on his crusade of financial freedom.

Through this new book, Dave and Rachel talk about the story that is the Dave Ramsey Story. Dave’s story is a mess that he turned into a message.  He didn’t let his mess dictate his future, but instead made it a message of hope.

I have been thoroughly enjoying this book about hope when I was taken aback by something that Rachel Cruz said. It hit me without warning. She made a statement that really made sense and that was ““I’m proud of my family and the way I was brought up, but always need to clarify something with those who only see the “Ramsey” instead of the “Rachel”; My story is not like my parent’s story.” Powerful.

Though Rachel Cruz is the daughter of Dave Ramsey, her story isn’t his story. Her story, unlike most of us, is the fruit of the story of a parent who cared. What would have become of the Ramsey family if hope had not been born?  I don’t foresee that they would have changed the world or moved on from mediocrity. Instead, this family tree changed.
In this book, you will learn the step on how to teach your children how to be wise stewards of the money that God has entrusted to them. Over the next few weeks, you will see several reviews on this book on Godly Daddy. Now, some of you have a few opinions on this topic. I have to be honest; I would have once been hesitant to begin this chapter of talking about money on a Christian site. There’s such a bad taste through many different movements in the church. However, when one of the reasons for divorce and dysfunction in families is money, the church needs to open up and talk about it.

The Four Letter Word That No One Wants To Talk About

In today’s society, there’s a four letter word that no one wants to talk about. It’s a word that puts to shame many individuals. So much shame that they avoid the word completely in their everyday life. What is this word that could bring so much controversy and disdain? Work. I know that I may be stepping on a few toes here and that’s fine when you operate your blog you can write about what you want to write about…but that may require work so I don’t know how that’s going to pan out for you. Anyway, in today’s world just showing up on time for your job makes you a highly marketable asset to the workplace. If you have a job, it’s a miracle that you utilize your 40 hour work week to do what the boss asks you to do in that time frame without clocking out early.

I, like many of you who read this blog and follow leaders like Dave Ramsey, John Maxwell, and the like, know what the true meaning of work is. I honestly don’t think that you or I would have as great of an appreciation for something if it were handed to us.

Now, I didn’t learn this from a get rich quick scheme or a book on entitlement. I got this message growing up in a household that required you to work. I started “working” at a very young age. I remember it just like it was yesterday. My mom had been working at an optometrist office for a while and I had to go to work with her sometimes. The doctor’s wife took this as an advantage for “free” labor. I am only kidding partially because she paid me under the table here and there. But here’s the thing that it taught me, work starts when you make it happen.

Sara and I have been teaching our kids over the last few weeks about the value of working to earn money. We purchased Financial Peace Junior (supposed to be one per child but on our budget…we made it work for all three) and started showing them what to do. A few people have made the assumption that we are hard on our children because we started so young on making them work (doing chores around the house.) We had a situation arise that Dave Ramsey would have used as a life lesson. Maleah has always been a hard worker but for some reason or another, she decided that she didn’t want to help. When it came to “payday” for them, Joanna had more than her. She was upset and started to throw a fit about it. This became a teaching moment. I kindly reminded her that if she wanted to make the money, she had to work. We don’t give allowances. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid.

Now, before you send me your hate mail, know that our girls get a dime for each chore they do and they have 10 throughout the whole week. Don’t have a cow. But it is important that we teach our children early on that work is not a curse word. As Dave would say, “it’s the number one get rich scheme.”

Dave and Rachel tackle this topic in the new book Smart Money, Smart Kids. Many folks will see this being abuse because they think you tie them up in a camp and make them work for their food. That’s not the case at all. One of the things that Rachel mentioned was that when you have a child under 5, you tend to do all the work except for a few toys and you make a huge deal out of it. Your child will see the reward and do it again. Our kids, for the vast majority, keep their toy room clean and make their beds. They also help Sara put laundry in the washing machine and put their laundry away (within reason.)
In short, your kids won’t die if they learn to work. Contrary to the societal push to “pass-the-buck” or live a life of “mediocrity”, your kids will survive and thrive if they work. It’s a four letter word that you cannot afford to not talk about.
What are you doing to show your kids how to work?

Going……Going……Gone!

In light of the baseball season, I cannot miss an opportunity on using some sort of baseball gorgon. I know many of my counterparts are rooting for Boston and the like but I, for one, am rooting for the Cardinals. My wife would have it no other way. Of course, I have spent a lot of time watching it even as I grew up. I remember spending time at my grandparent’s house and my Granddaddy would have that on the television. Of course, at that time, I didn’t pay too much attention to it. But I remember a few times when the announcer would yell over the mic “it’s going….it’s going….it’s gone! That’s a homer for the Cardinals….!”

In this season, there aren’t many days that I can catch a good game on television because we are saving up and paying off our house. It’s a small price…I know… Something that I caught myself in the habit of was being reluctant to spend money. We recently had a car repair that was necessary and I held off until I could hold off no more. Some of you know that feeling of “do I really want to fork out $800?” With that, I had to start working on showing what is a need and a want. In the midst of that, we have been teaching our kids about what it takes to run our house. They are often shocked that it takes money to make the world go around. I wish I could make it all appear out of thin air but unfortunately, I can’t do that.

When it comes to the spending budget, it would be easier to get the credit card out and just spend like Congress. But unfortunately, in our reality, we wouldn’t be able to get a bailout. Our household has to budget that spending money and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Dave drove this principle out in the Smart Money, Smart Kids book. He and Rachel both spoke about the time they went to Opryland and Rachel spent her money before they even got through the park. She got into a game and realized she had no more spending money. Thinking that her dad or mom would bail her out, she asked. Their response? “When it’s gone…it’s gone.” It’s a hard pill to swallow when you’re out having fun and reach into your pocket only to find…there’s no more money.

Spending is a lot of fun and you should do it often but within balance. You can’t rob Peter to pay Paul in order to spend. We, as a microwave generation, have to train our kids to spend and do it within reason but have fun doing it. It’s fun to spend when you have the ability to do so without breaking the bank.

An Open Hand

God doesn’t need your money. It is just that simple. The lights of heaven aren’t going to shut off because you didn’t send in your tithe check. The gates of heaven aren’t going to be locked because a parishioner didn’t provide a check to pay for the repairs. The tree of life won’t wither if you don’t send your seed in. You then may ask, “then why all the hoopla about giving?” Giving is not just a matter of your checkbook but the matter of the heart. Jesus even made this His example “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:21)” It changed my way of thinking on the art of giving when I heard this. My heart is to take care of those in need then my wallet or checkbook should follow suit. I love how Rachel Cruze wrote this John D. Rockefeller quote in the Smart Money, Smart Kids book, “I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 a week.” Isn’t that the truth? If you won’t give to God when you have little then you won’t do it when you have many.

Our kids follow our example in this area. It is proven that the younger a child is when they give, the more that they will give away. The older they are, the more likely they are to keep it for themselves. It’s all a matter of following what they have been taught. Dave would probably say it better like this that “Kids are like sponges” and it’s true. Let out a swear word around your kids and see what happens in the next few days.
Our church teaches kids how to give. Right there, many of you would scoff and say that the church is all about money. Not true. It teaches them this principle; the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. If it is His, we are managing it. If we are managing the money of the One who is the ultimate Giver, then should we not be ready and willing to pass that on to our children? Teaching your kids to give is just as important as teaching your kids how to save money and stay out of debt. Why? It breaks the entitlement gene that we find in ourselves. “The church is all about money and all those preachers do is ask for money….” I find it funny that you never say that about McDonald’s when you go through the line to get food or Shell when you get gas (although it feels like it sometimes).
What am I saying? We need to teach our children the right attitude when it comes to giving. We rephrase it in our house. We don’t have to give…we are blessed to give.

The Blueprint of Life

Have you ever had a moment when you were driving somewhere and got lost?  Of course, the joke is that man would rather drive for hours instead of asking for directions that would get him somewhere in five minutes. Wait…men don’t ask for directions. We recently put together a new pantry that required a Ph.D. in engineering.  Seriously, who puts these directions together anyway?  There have to be some munchkins from munchkin land who put these things into the boxes and laugh as they seal them shut.   That’s another story for another blog. The directions that we used to put it together helped us to make it a quicker process. I am sure we would have figured it out without the directions but with them, our marriage was kept intact.

We can see that Jesus even mentions it in the book of Luke 14:28-30.
“For which of you, wishing to build a farm building, does not first sit down and calculate the cost [to see] whether he has sufficient means to finish it? Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and is unable to complete [the building], all who see it will begin to mock and jeer at him, Saying, This man began to build and was not able (worth enough) to finish.”

Teaching our children about money is the same way. In order to be successful at anything, we have to plan.  Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying “if you fail to plan, plan to fail.” Sara and I have a plan in place to open a coffee shop.  A lot of well-meaning people have suggested taking out a loan or just follow our dreams.  Those are all great ideas for those who don’t think about the future or think about what could be.  The stats already stacked against the new business owner with 85% of all small businesses failing in 18 months. Why?  Stats show because of cash flow problems.  This all stems back to failing to plan.

Will, what does this have to do with children and money? I am believing that one day I am going to leave this business to them or someone so I might as well manage it well now and plan now while I can. Dave and Rachel talk plenty about budgeting and planning throughout this book. You and I have a responsibility to our children to help them to learn how to budget and plan where their money goes. As our kids are growing up, it becomes more evident to us too.

Don’t Graduate from IOU

I remember it like yesterday. I had great aspirations to go to the University of Memphis to get my business degree and open up a coffee shop while heading for my Master’s. Such a great plan, right? The only problem is that I try to do it the “easy” way. I took out student loans to fund it. Wait. That’s not the problem. I had to quit I didn’t have any more loans to get after I lost my job. Did I finish? Nope.

Let’s fast forward a few years later. I filed bankruptcy with a bunch of debt. Guess what debt wouldn’t go on the bankruptcy? The student loan. Really? Yep. Something I learned that I didn’t get while I was at the University of Memphis was this; you can borrow your way to education…especially when it will not secure a job for you. There is no statistical correlation to your little Junior or Junette getting a job because he/she has a degree. There are currently millions of people with Master’s degrees that are working the battlefield called fast food. Not to say that education isn’t important. Right now, I am currently finishing up the Associate’s side of my degree. I am doing it on scholarships now. I am also debt free now. Going into student loan debt did not help me to graduate but it hindered me.

I know, you’re thinking if you have children about sending those cherubs to school (or even going back to school yourself) and if you can’t take out a loan then what can you do. Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze give some great advice on how to fund your cherub’s education in the new Smart Money, Smart Kids book.

* Savings – ESA (Education Savings Account) which will allow you to put $2,000 per year per child. You can have it auto debited each month (166.66) into that account. What rocks? If you start from 0 to 18, you can save (with interest being approximate) 126,000. Good news? It grows tax-free.

* The 529 Plan – It’s the big brother of the ESA and will allow you to put more into it in a mutual fund.

* Choose a State School – Most out of state schools charge an expensive fee for you going to another college out of state. There are some exceptions to the rule (some states have clauses where they will waive it for certain states. Look into it with the college you are looking to send your child to).

* Scholarships- There are millions of dollars that go untapped every year for college students. For an example, I saw an ad in the paper to apply for a scholarship program through my school. I went online and filled out all the applications that I could fill. One of them that I did win was a bank scholarship that wasn’t advertised publically. You have to go and search for them.

There are some programs that you can buy to search these out. I am not skilled in these. However, do your research and check them out.

• FASFA- Proceed with caution but you can get a Pell Grant and other scholarships from this program. That’s how I was able to attend completely debt free the 2nd go around. Be careful not to choose the one where you have to pay it back.
• Pedigree- Many well-meaning parents and some students believe that going to Yale or some high-end school will ensure that someone will get a great job. This is a myth. There are schools that are less pricey and will save you money yet give you the same amount of education.

Our children are currently being taught the value of money and education. They are pretty young, but I know that they will remember when they go to a school that it pays to go without debt. They won’t have a problem going to school without worrying about having to pay for it for years and years. I heard Dave Ramsey say often that most people “keep their student loans around so long they think it’s a pet.” Most pets….are more fun to play with.

Contentment Breeds Satisfaction

When Dave and Rachel touched on this topic in the book, I was hooked. We currently are battling this with our girls. It seems that no matter what you do, someone is unhappy. I laugh because it is no different from you and me with God. I am going through this right now. I know you all are perfect and holy, however, I still have to work this thing every day. It’s not that I am not grateful for what God has done. But I struggle with being happy where I am because I have a dream for our family. Then I went and read this book which spoke to me about how I could combat that.

No Mercy

Dave says to “show the enemy no mercy.” Discontentment is a disease that we should consider the enemy. It gets into the very core of a person and causes them to become unhappy and bitter.  How do you get rid of it? “Surgically remove it”, Dave says.  “Remind your kids that owning stuff is fine, but when your stuff owns you, when you define yourself by a purchase or an amount of money, you are on the road to becoming a disgusting human being.” Okay, so that sounds a little harsh but what he’s getting at is that it is toxic.

Don’t Join the Enemy

It’s really easy for you or me to get sucked into the media of the “I want” bug. However, if you allow it to happen, you will become exactly what you don’t want to. Paul talks about that in Romans 7:15 by saying, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.“

Teachable Moments

Something that I am learning, as a parent, is that life is full of teachable moments.  For example, Maleah just earned the ability to buy something that she has wanted for a long time. Instead of buying it on her behalf, which would have been easier, we sought out the moment. This great couple decided to help us with that when they sold the item. We met at a place to pick it up and the woman explained everything to Maleah that she was going to sell her. She then gave Maleah the option to buy or to pass.  Of course, she’s 5 so she bought it, but it was a teachable moment. When you save money, you get to buy something with it. At the same time, we are showing our children the art of giving. It breaks the chains of discontentment…well, almost. We are still working on that one.

Change Their Perspective

This is an important one. Rachel talks about this regarding a trip that she took to Peru. She talked about a time when she gave some stickers to a little girl who just lit up her world. It was something simple, but it was something that left an impact on her life. Use opportunities and teaching moments to change their perspective.  Maleah is slowly catching onto this one. I heard her say about a situation the other day, “it could always be worse.” It kind of caught me off guard and no one else really noticed it but I sure did.
The rest of the chapter, you are going to have to read on your own because it will challenge you to help your children get out of this discontentment.

Put the Fun in Dysfunctional Put the Fun in Dysfunctional

I loved this title of Chapter ten in the Smart Money, Smart Kids book. I don’t know one family that isn’t dysfunctional. Like Dave says about those who want to change, “The first step to fixing a problem is admitting that there is one.” It’s so true. Sara and I are fortunate not to have too much dysfunction in our families.
But it is important to tackle the topic of family dynamics when it comes to money and raising kids.

The main thing that Dave and Rachel talk about is getting them grown and gone. You may wonder what that has to do with dysfunctional families. You aren’t raising children, you are raising adults. We are not growing our kids up to stay kids but to become adults. If we raise dysfunctional kids…let us just say Dr. Phil will have his show lasting for decades. I am not saying that we have to be perfect parents and there are times when dysfunction happens just because the child decides to defect. We are all witnesses to the child who was raised in a good, Godly home that completely went weird.
To help, Dave and Rachel talk about many different aspects of the dysfunctional family. I highlighted a few areas to cover their thoughts.

1. Dethrone the Princess. I laughed at this one. Everyone knows someone who has a princess in their home. You know the one who cries and gets every single thing that they demand. Dave makes a great statement; “my best advice is not to have a throne or a princess in the first place.” Every child that tries to test their boundaries and will take advantage of the ones that you give into.

2. Spoiled Kids and Wimpy Parents. Have you ever opened a gallon of expired milk? The milk didn’t cause itself to become spoiled. The person who had control over it left it on the counter or didn’t use it before the expiration date. You and I have responsibilities to get control of our children to help them to become great assets to society.

3. Spoiled or Blessed? I have to agree to with Rachel when she talked about well-meaning people saying that she was spoiled when in fact she was blessed.  Just because Dad and Mom are well off and take care of their children’s needs doesn’t mean that they are spoiled but blessed.  There’s a distinct difference in being spoiled and being blessed.  When you are spoiled, you reek of the after effects of being spoiled.  When you are blessed, every person around you reaps the benefits.

4. Raising Arrows Not Boomerangs.  I loved this section because, in today’s society, it is perfectly acceptable for a middle-aged person to move back home and live the rest of their lives with the parents. Now, I say this knowing that some of you do live at home because your circumstances don’t allow you to live out of your parents’ home.  You may have filed bankruptcy and are trying to get back on your feet and that’s fine. However, this is for those who willingly don’t work and don’t support themselves. Send your children out in the world like an arrow instead of boomeranging back into the home.
Dave and Rachel talk about the different types of families from conventional to non-conventional. No matter what type of family you are a part of, you can’t expect your children to learn if you don’t take time to teach them the right way.
Today is the last day that you can get the new book from Dave and Rachel at an unbelievable price and with awesome perks.

Blessings and Curses

“I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live. ”Deuteronomy 30:19 AMP

I am super stoked about today. Today is the day that I have been waiting for for the last month. This is the launch date for the Smart Money, Smart Kids book! I know many of you have been following this blog for a while and have been reading about this great book.  There are a few that may have wondered “what is all the hoopla about this book? Why should I care?”

To be honest, as a Dad we want to see our children be successful adults as they leave our house. The consistent thing that I have read throughout this time of review of this book is this; “I wish I had known this when I was younger.” I have to be honest with you, I am one of those. I want to see my children never go through the financial chaos that I went through as a young adult. The Lord doesn’t see debt as sin.  He doesn’t see it as a heaven or hell issue.  However, if He talks about it over and over through the word, I think it is something that you and I should look at.

What blessings are you leaving your children if, God forbid, something happens to you? Or are you leaving curses? It is certainly something to think about while you are reading this blog. As a Godly Dad, what are you doing to better your family tree? My hope is that not only financially but spiritually that my children will live a long and prosperous life that changes millions of lives.

Use What’s In Your Hand

For the past few weeks, I have been chronicling the Smart Money, Smart Kids book because I have believed strongly in place a firm foundation for our children to grow on. Something that may have come across your mind or even the mind of the passerby who doesn’t know about that foundation and that is; what if I don’t have the money to teach my children or what if all my children are grown and out of the house? Like anything in life, I like to connect the dots with the Word. As Godly fathers (and mothers), we want to do what is best for our kids and there’s no question about it. There are times that we feel that we just don’t have the resources available to give our children the education in life that they need.

I had one of those moments when I was writing a post recently when a friend of mine was writing a message for his church. He went to the scripture in Exodus 4 where Moses was before God and God were instructing him to go to Egypt to free His people. Moses came up with excuse after excuse for why he wasn’t qualified and why he couldn’t fulfill what God had called Him to do. First, he said, “what if they do not believe me or listen to me and say “The Lord did not appear to you?” God’s response? “What is your hand?”
I would be like “um, excuse me?” But here is what transpired next;
“A staff” he replied. “The Lord said, ‘Throw it on the ground.’ Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the Lord said to him, ‘ reach out your hand and take it by the tail.’ So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. ‘This’, the Lord said, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob – has appeared to you.”

God didn’t call Moses to go to Egypt after he went and got right with God or when he had enough money, but with what he already had in his hand. Let me encourage you that you can do anything that God has put into your heart to do no matter where you are in the race of life. Go ahead…. Use what’s in your hand and go for the Promised Land.

The Hardest Thing I Had To Do For My Children

Most parents use this phrase on their kids when they discipline them; “this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” I think that could be a lie. Perhaps? Okay, maybe not. But when you read the title of this post, I am sure some of you thought about that. Actually, that’s not the truth. I am here today to say the hardest thing that I had to do for my children is…release them.

This all started several years ago. Maleah was  four and was about to embark on a new journey called Pre-School. It was here that Sara and I found ourselves at a scary crossroad. It became more evident as we went on throughout the school year that we had a major problem. We were both dealing with control. The problem was that we no longer had control. Suddenly, she would be under the “control” of other people for 5-8 hours a day. It honestly freaked me out. But the thing that we had to do is release her.
Now, when you see “release her”, some may think that we just handed her over to whoever was watching her or whatever. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is, we had to trust God to take care of her and keep those things that we taught her (currently and in the past) in her heart to remind her daily. Why is that so important? When she’s out of our sight and in someone else’s, we have to trust that God will be on the scene regardless of where we are.

As always, I try to liken our experience to the Word. There is a place where God had to do this for His Son, Jesus. In the Garden, Jesus cried unto the Father “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, not my will but your will.” Honestly, being a parent, I would have run down to him and took the cup for myself and let him live. But God had to release Jesus to be able to fulfill what Jesus was called to do…to die for the sins of the world. I am not sure if you or I could have that strong of a commitment but as I released my daughter into the care of her teachers and the authorities of her school, I have to trust that God will watch over her and that she will be the Mighty Woman of God that she is called to be (even at now five years old.)

I know that once they grow up and get ready to move out, there will be another phase of releasing. Until then, perhaps I will live in denial.

Every Parent Fails; Not Every Parent is a Failure

There is not one parent that hasn’t lost their temper and yelled at their kid(s). There is not one parent that hasn’t forgotten to pick them up from school or forgot to pack their favorite snack in their lunch. There is not one parent that hasn’t failed at one point or another. Every Parent Fails.

It is important that we, as parents, remember that there are no perfect parents. Those who pretend on Facebook or Twitter to be the most awesome parent and “never make mistakes,” truth be told; they failed not long before posting something adorable and cute on their statuses. Don’t let it get to you. Remember this: Every Parent Fails; Every Parent Is Not A Failure.

Just a reminder.

YOU

ARE

NOT

A

FAILURE!

 

Parenting | Raising Adults

I came home from work recently to a very unhappy mother.  She didn’t have to say a word. You moms know exactly what I mean when I say this; she had “the look.”  Let me rewind to earlier in the day. I received a phone call regarding my darling children who were being anything but darling. I had mom put two of them on the phone. Needless to say, we had a talk. I thought this was it. I thought my talk with them would work. I apparently thought wrong.

Enter scene. I got home and I could tell something was wrong. The kids were all running around, but mom was not happy. You could tell that she was beyond exhausted. I gave it a little bit. I watched what was going on. I took the two girls I had talked to into the back room and sat them down. I asked two questions –

Why is your mom upset and why did you do it?

Needless to say, they were speechless for a moment. I followed up with the thing that strikes fear into every child; “Your mother did not tell me what you did, however, I know already what you did.” I expressed my disappointment in them. They had lied to me and I didn’t make light of it. They had said that they were going to do as they were asked and that they would help their mom out.

For a half hour, we had a conversation as a family on what it means to be a family and why we expect them to obey. Honestly, it was hard. I didn’t want to have to discipline them. I had to follow through with our conversation from earlier in the day. They needed to understand why we, as parents, have to correct behaviors and why we needed to work together to make our house run.

Did they enjoy it? No. I did not belittle them. As a matter of fact, I expect them to act as if they were at school or someone else’s house. Will they fail again? You can count on it. They aren’t perfect. We aren’t either. That’s the thing, they know we aren’t perfect. No parent is. Our children aren’t going to do every single thing right. They will know that they can mess up and that their parents love them unconditionally.

We are not their best friend. We are entrusted to raise them to be productive, responsible, well-rounded adults. We aren’t raising children. We are raising adults. I know, I will get some flack for it. That’s okay. I am not going to stand before a man at the end of the day. I am going to stand before God.

Did they learn? I hope so. Of course, they seem to whenever it is done right away. The true test comes later. My prayer is that they will. My prayer is that these young women will be fierce lovers of God and grow to be mighty women in the world.

A Father Offers His Son | Scott LaPierre

51nuxel0K+L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Scott LaPierre writes from the heart reflecting on the parallels between Abraham offering Isaac and God offering Christ as a sacrifice. Don’t mistake these parallels – they aren’t what you think. Perfect for a Bible Study or Personal Study, Scott will walk you through chapter 22 of Genesis to show you those very parallels. Without giving up too much information, this book will break down who Isaac and Jesus were, where they both had been in the same place, their place in both the Old and New Testament, where their stories overlap, and the final sacrifice for God’s people. Each chapter ends with an outline of Q&As that will challenge you to grow closer to God and discover the true purpose in His relationship with you. You can get this book today!
Kindle  Paperback

Scott LaPierre is the Senior Pastor of Woodland Christian Church in Woodland, WA, author, speaker, and Regional Facilitator over WA, OR, and CA for The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches. His most important role is the husband to his wife, Katie, and father of seven children. When he’s not busy with all of these roles, he enjoys reading and writing.

Did I Miss God?

I took a walk tonight through town. I have been walking a few days a week over a stretch of town to get some exercise in, to pray, and to gather my thoughts. Tonight, I walked by the place that we had hoped and prayed that we would own. This was going to be the place that we would open a well of opportunity for our community to come together. It was going to be the dream of operating a coffee shop. I had this dream for over a decade. I had the business plans all ready to go, had the opportunity to buy the property, and then our world came crashing down.

It was January of 2017 that the cracks beneath our foundation began to surface in my career. Nearly a decade of serving a world-wide organization, I had prayed that God would open doors for promotion, for an increase, for whatever it would take to grab hold of our dream. I would find myself by the end of that month unemployed and wondering what I would do to provide for my family. The dream that I had slowly drifted away.

Did I miss God?

That was the question that I asked myself during the last year and a half. That was the question that I desired to see answered. After all of this time of believing, I honestly had doubts. Tonight was no different. I walked down that road and by that building with that very question. That answer wasn’t a thundering response nor was it a rebuke from God for asking. A still small piece of me was still seeing what I had seen over all of those years.

Did God Answer?

I did not hear God’s audible voice. I know, often you read these stories and the author tells about an epiphany or a sign from God that this was or was not to be. I did not get that.  I believe it can happen. But my experience wasn’t the same.  I did have a small sense of peace. It didn’t answer my question. However, it did answer the struggle. It gave me a peace of knowing that God is listening. In James 1:5, the author writes;

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

I find comfort in knowing that I can ask God and without finding fault in me or in my questioning, he answers. The when is not defined. The how is not told, but the Who is. I may not know.

 

 

Your Problem May Seem Smaller than It Appears

“In order to keep a true perspective of one’s importance, everyone should have a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him.” -Unknown

I had a revelation one day while driving to work. I looked over at my passenger mirror and it read “Objects may be larger than they appear.” How often do we look at our situation and think that it’s huge? In 1 Peter 5, the apostle wrote about the worries of the saints being cast upon the Lord. In verses 6-8 we are instructed to “humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” Whenever a situation arises that I find overwhelming or too big for me to handle, I look around for the lion. I imagine him “like” a roaring lion. The vision I have for him is a large, overgrown, fat cat with no teeth and a blow horn. “You mean, you don’t fear him? You mean, you’re not afraid of him?” Let me answer this in an easy way.

In the book of Isaiah 14, the prophet Isaiah tore the devil apart with prophesy of what God will do to avenge His people. In verse 16, we read “Everyone there will stare at you and ask, ‘Can this be the one who shook the earth and made the kingdoms of the world tremble?” I don’t worry about him because we will look upon him and realize how “big” he really is. Our God is far bigger in comparison to the enemy. Friend, your perspective of the problem will weigh how big you believe that your God is to handle it. There’s an old saying that when your problems tell you how big they are, remind them how big your God is. In Matthew 19:26, Jesus was speaking to the disciples about salvation but it also includes everything in life. Jesus said “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” God is so big that everything is possible.

It is easy to look at the problem that you and I are facing but when we realize that our God is bigger than the problem, we relinquish the power to be in fear. I received this quote while I was working on this chapter that reads “You must realize, that fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do no misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.” Fear is a choice that you and I make when we arrive at a situation or problem. I have a way to remind me the truth about fear that I use often. Fear is truthfully “forgetting everything about reality.” Fear reveals an emotion that often is a lie. You and I both know that the situation isn’t going to be the end of us.

As you and I navigate this life, we are often found guilty of having our noses down because our problems weigh us down. We tend to look at the negative and at the glass as half-empty. Our problems are often smaller that they really are. When we see that there are starving people in third world countries, we are less likely to complain about the wait at a restaurant. When we hear of the unemployment lines, we are likely to embrace our jobs with more enthusiasm. When we witness the injustices of people who can’t get a broken arm fixed, we are less likely to complain about the headache that we have. And the list goes on and on. Recently, I came across this letter online (netjeff.com) to help you and me to get a bit of a better understanding;

Dear Mom and Dad,

It has now been three months since I left for college. I am sorry for my thoughtlessness in not having written before. I will bring you up to date but before you read on you had better sit down. Okay? I am getting along pretty well now. The skull fracture and concussion I got when I jumped out of my apartment window when it caught fire after my arrival here is pretty well healed. I only spent two weeks in the hospital and now I can see almost normally and only get these sick headaches once a day.

Fortunately the fire and my jump were witnessed by Roger an attendant at the gas station, and he was the one who called the fire department. He also visited me in the hospital, and since I had nowhere to live he was kind enough to invite me to share his apartment with him. He is a very fine man, and we are planning to get married. We haven’t set the date yet, but it will be before my pregnancy begins to show. His divorce is final now, and he shares custody of his 3 children. The reason for the delay in our marriage is that Roger has a minor infection which prevents us from passing our premarital blood tests, and I carelessly caught it from him. This will soon clear up with the penicillin injections I am taking daily.

Now that I have brought you up to date I want to tell you that there was no fire, I did not have a concussion or skull fracture, I was not in the hospital, I am not pregnant, I am not engaged, I do not have syphilis, and there is no divorced man in my life. However, I am getting a “D” in Art and an “F” in Biology and I wanted you to see these marks in the proper perspective.

Your loving daughter,

Jane

If you or I received this letter from our child, the failing grade would be a relief. However, if we only got the call that they were failing, we would be upset and find it unacceptable. What changed in this scenario to help make the parents see things in a different perspective? If we take a moment and look at the situation from afar, it doesn’t seem all that bad. It actually may be so minuet that we miss the point. However, when we are right in the middle of it, the situation seems so impossible to get out.

To us, it would seem like rocket science to look into the cockpit of a plane. The dashboard would intimidate us with all the gears and buttons. More importantly, we would have a hard time being able to navigate with the gauges. To a pilot, it is second nature. He sees the temperature gauge that tells him how hot or cold the engines are, the altitude to know how far from the ground he is, and the fuel gauge to know how much fuel would be left to fly the plane. However, there is a little known gauge that you and I may not be familiar with but it is critical to the operation of the plane and that is the altitude indicator. The attitude indicator reads how the plane is flying and what position that it is in. If the plane’s attitude is sinking, it is considered “nose-down” and if it’s rising, the plane’s attitude is “nose-up.” If the nose is down, the plane is destined to crash. There is no denying that it is heading down because the gauge shows that it is sinking. The only thing to do is to change course and pull the plane up to the desired destination.

When God Doesn’t Make Sense

“John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’ Luke 7:20

        Have you ever had a moment like John the Baptist? Perhaps you have been in a place where you wondered where God was in your time of need or where you question of the validity of what God has “called” you to do. I am sure there was a moment in time where you cried out to God and thought that He abandoned you when you needed Him most. John had been imprisoned as a result of an oath the king made to a woman who had great disdain for John. John had been preaching to the people, baptizing them, and proclaiming that Jesus was the Messiah. Now, he would face certain death after being imprisoned and he was keenly aware of what was to come.
       At this time, it just did not make sense why God would allow him to be imprisoned and sentenced to death. It would be John who sent his disciples to ask ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?'” When John’s disciples approached Jesus with this question, Jesus did not respond in hysterics or great surprise that John had been imprisoned. He did not give excuses or provide scenarios that John could use to escape. He honestly did not address that John had been imprisoned. He provided the truth and that was the evidence which proved that
He was the true Messiah. He didn’t have to prove it. He didn’t have to come up with some sort of explanation as to His credentials to being the Messiah. He proclaimed the good work that was going on. After the disciples had departed, Jesus spoke to the crowd, “I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”” What a memorial to John!
        Often, we find ourselves in the place of John the Baptist. We are imprisoned in our own issues and in our own deal. And there are times that we treat God like a genie in a bottle where we only want His input when we want our three wishes. So we call out His name and demand Him to perform. Often, we demand God to perform His word when it is His word that says that “And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” (Philippians 1:6 AMP).
There is no sense in demanding God to adhere to His word when it is He who says that He will complete the work that He started. It doesn’t make sense to you or me when we are going through the storm. The word does tell us that we are to remind Him of His promises. The difference in “reminding” and “demanding” is attitude. When God doesn’t make sense is usually when the breakthrough is on the horizon. The timing of God’s promises is not found in scripture. He doesn’t promise that the breakthrough will occur in a matter of a week or so. On the contrary, He confirms that there will be trials and tribulations. The encouraging part is found later in the same scripture in the Amplified Bible which says “for Christ has already conquered the world (and deprived it of the power).” Christ took the keys of hell and the power from the hands of Satan so that we would be conquerors through Him.
       Did Jesus’ tribute to John or His encouragement to John’s disciples bring John relief? We don’t really know. When the disciples of John went back to him and passed the message along, there is no follow up. But I could imagine John saying, “This just doesn’t make sense. I have seen Him heal the blind, make the lame walk, the dead rise, and so much more yet He can’t simply come to my rescue of this pit.” You and I make the same statements when we are going through the storm. “Why would a loving God allow this to happen? It just doesn’t make sense.” I am sure that John had thoughts of doubt and perhaps was confused about the calling that God had on his life. I also wonder if John had the revelation of Psalms 18:6, “In my distress {when seemingly closed in} I called upon the Lord and cried to my God; He heard my voice out of His temple (heavenly dwelling place), and my cry came before Him into His {very} ears. (AMP)” You can’t get too much more closed in as John. Whenever God doesn’t make sense, we can always rely on calling out to Him and crying out to Him knowing that He will listen. Not only will He listen, He will respond. In verse 7-10 we read further “Then the earth quaked and rocked, the foundations also of the mountains trembled; they moved and were shaken because He was indignant and angry. There went up smoke from His nostrils and lightning out of His mouth devoured; coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also and came down; and thick darkness was under His feet. And He rode upon a cherub {a storm} and flew {swiftly}; yes, He sped on with the wings of the wind.” What? The God of all creation, of heaven and of earth, of wind and fire, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would come at your defense when you cry to Him?

         Friend, God will literally move heaven and earth as He hears the cries of the people He loves. You may think “oh, that’s for the super spiritual or for those that He has pre-ordained.” That’s not true, my friend. In Romans 2:11 in the Amplified Bible we read “For God does not show favoritism.” God doesn’t have special ruled for one group of people. His love and His approach is with all people who come to Him (see John 3:16).

4 Things To Do When You Go Back To School…as a Parent

 

Over the life of our marriage, I have found myself in this predicament; not only do the kids go back to school but so do I! As I near 40 with three kids and a wife, it is even more difficult for me to retain the information that I need to and have the energy to be able to be husband, dad, full-time employee, and student. At one point, I was going to work at 3 am, getting off at 230, heading to school at 4, coming home at 9, spending what time I had left with my wife, and then to bed just to start over the next day. (I am confident that my wife was ready to disown me at this point…)

I have learned, however, how to balance these things over the years because I firmly believe that we have to constantly learn to be relevant in our professions and in society.  There are 4 things that I learned during this stint in being in school while holding all the other titles that come along with being almost 40;

  1. Read.  This may be the most vital portion of this topic. Reading what you are learning will help you to understand what you need for your exams. A few things here are helpful; highlighters to highlight the important terms and definitions throughout each chapter, take one chapter at a time, write notes as you read or type them out, and re-read what you have written.
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  2. Listen. One thing that I have learned is that listening is vital to studying. Whether you are recording your professor to listen to later or listening to teachings online (including videos), your brain will absorb the information and help recall what you have learned in conjunction with what you have read. Sites like YouTube, Udemy, and your university are a plethora of resources for you to watch and/or listen to lessons to help you retain what you have learned.
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  3. Do. The problem with most courses or classes is that you don’t get the experience of doing what you learn while you are learning it. It is important to find performance-based questions, practice questions, and quizzes to test you for your readiness for your exams. Another way to do is to teach someone. Showing someone even if they don’t know or even care what you are doing will help you cultivate the part of your brain to jog your memory when the exams come.
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  4. Balance. As a reminder, you are not a superhero! Do not burn out with trying to study at all times. You have to find that balance. I have had to learn this the hard way. You cannot study 24/7 as much as you would like to.  You have to balance your time in studying, family and for yourself.  It has been proven that if you study all of the time, you will lose what you learn because your brain is in overload. In between the comings and goings, I had to make my family a top priority. Whether it was playing games while I was extremely exhausted, listening to my wife talk about the day, or whatever, I had to break down some time to be with my family and put them first. You are nothing without God and family. If you don’t have your life in balance, you will fall flat. This goes back to the first thing I wrote about.

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I am sure that I missed something. I mean, there are a lot of things that I left out. What advice would you give to a person going back to school with a full-time job and family?

 

When The Coffee Mug is Half Empty…

I try not to be cynical. It is not something that I want to do. The old adage “if you don’t believe anything good will ever happen, you won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t” kind of rings a lot in my life. Naturally, I am a negative person. I have to force myself to believe that there are good things that happen in life. I have to make a concerted effort to be a positive person. The coffee mug could be half full of coffee and I will think “well…I am almost out of coffee….” But seriously, over the years I have certainly developed this toxic gift that I am constantly working on. I don’t want to be cynical, but you guys out there in the real world make it really hard for me not to be.

When someone has been working their whole career to get ahead just to be left behind constantly, it is easy for that person to believe in the old adage that I mentioned earlier. When our finances continue to hit a brick wall, it is hard for me to be glad for the guy who was able to pay his house off and start his own business from scratch without borrowing a penny. I digress. My hope is that I can become as successful as Abraham Lincoln….without all the failures…

Time Line of Failures of Abraham Lincoln

1832- Defeated for State Legislature

1833- Failed in Business

1835-Lost his Fiancé

1836- Nervous Breakdown

1838- Defeated for Speaker

1843- Defeated for Nomination for Congress

1848- Lost Re-nomination

1849- Rejected for Land Officer

1854- Defeated for US Senate

1856- Defeated for Nomination for Vice President

1858- Defeated again for US Senate

1860-ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

Galatians 6:9 NLT

       I was surprised that this article did not mention that Lincoln had lost two of his four sons to death while they were children and one while he was in the White House. Not to mention that his wife was clinically insane. Lincoln had a lot of opportunities to develop an attitude that was toxic. It would have been easy for him to become cynical. It is easy to think only good things happen to certain people and the rest of us are left behind to remove the manure.

It is important that we have our eyes set on greater things and better things. I am not proclaiming some message of weird witchcraft. But I am saying that the Bible verse from Proverbs 23:7 which reads “As [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he.” If you are thinking doom and gloom, do not be surprised if you get doom and gloom. If you think your kids are hoodlums, do not be shocked when they are arrested for disorderly conduct…okay, that may be a stretch. But do not be shocked if they grow up causing trouble. If we can get our minds around this, what power would we have as men of God? Amazing!

Time Line Source – http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/education/failures.htm. Retrieved 10.01.14.

The Power of Redundancy

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

Driving home from work the other day, I had a thought. Don’t be scared, I won’t be taking over the world any time soon. Though the thought has crossed my mind, I digress. I was thinking about the successes of men and women who are living their dream and what could I do to imitate their actions. The thought that came to mind was this;

“There is great power in redundancy.”

How often do you and I go into an adventure that we have been dying to do only to find ourselves rejected, dejected, defeated, and mistreated? We put on the depressing Sarah McLaughlin music with our tears flowing into our favorite drink with thoughts of just throwing in the towel on our dreams… what? You have never had those feelings? Right. Then, we see the amazingly successful men and women get out there and kick butt. We believe the old adage that they became an “overnight success” only to find it too took them 20 years to see it come to pass.

The thing is that in order for ourselves to be successful, we have to see how they became successful. Whether it is because they keep their nose to the grindstone or kept their eyes focused on the prize. Whether they keep their heart directed towards that dream or they fight to keep that very dream alive. They win! What’s the common denominator?

“The power of redundancy”

Here are three things that successful people do when practicing the power of redundancy;

  1. They keep posting about their vision. In the great algorithm of life, if you keep putting your vision before people, they will buy into it. In the world of Social Media, this is vital. The more you talk about it – the more others will see it. The more you post it – the more others will know. The more you put yourself out there – the more people know you mean business. Regardless of what your mind tells you, you have to move past that thought process and keep talking about it. Keep the dream alive through redundancy.finger-2056030_1920
  2. They keep pushing through the negativity. They do not give into criticism or negative thought. They don’t allow themselves to throw a pity party with them being the guest of honor. They, instead, surround themselves with positive thoughts and uplifting music. It is no different if you eat only junk food. If you fill yourself with junk, you will be sick. If you eat good food, you will be healthy. The same is for our thoughts.desperate-2293377_1920
  3. They surround themselves with like-minded people. If you think about it, the more you hang out with positive people – the more positive you are. Studies show that the people you are close to are the way you will become. If you have negative, hard to get along with people in your circle, don’t be surprised if you are the same. If you are positive and have successful people in your circle, don’t be surprised if you are the same.teamcult
  4. Here is a bonus:
    What your mouth. How many times have you or I been told to “watch your mouth?” I know that I have heard that from time to time from my folks or from people around me. The statement is true. If you keep spouting off how you don’t have enough money or can’t do…do not be shocked when you keep having the same results.

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So my challenge for you today is to tap into the power of redundancy. Don’t quit. Keep pressing forward. Why? Because you’ve got this!

The Day I Unfriended 400 People

“Instead of asking, “WHAT should we do to compete?” the questions must be asked, “WHY did we start doing WHAT we’re doing in the first place, and WHAT can we do to bring our cause to life considering all the technologies and market opportunities available today?”                                                                                                                 Simon Sinek – Start with Why

Have you asked yourself the question “who are all of these people on my Facebook feed?” I did that recently. I was scrolling through my feed and I couldn’t tell you whose story I was reading. I couldn’t even tell you where I remember meeting these people. I scrolled for what seemed like an eternity and I may have seen a few people that I knew, but all in all, I didn’t see very many people that I did know.

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I tried to justify keeping them on my feed and yet, I couldn’t tell you why. One of the things that I learned from reading Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why was to ask the real question. That got me thinking about the reasons why we have certain people in our lives and it hit me; it fulfills the need to have someone in our lives just for the sake of having them in our lives. 

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With that, I began to purge my social media feed. Within an hour, I removed over 400 profiles from my feed. I looked through my list and if I could not remember who they were, they were removed. If I didn’t have a social media conversation with them within a certain period of time, they were removed. If I didn’t talk with them one on one in a period of time, I removed them.

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Now, you may be asking, “aren’t you afraid of offending those you unfriended?” Not really. If I haven’t had a conversation with them, they most likely won’t notice anyhow. It is easy to get tied up with the “what ifs” when it comes to social media. It is almost like a prison. We get so tied up with wondering what other people think that we lose who we are in the process.

I unfriended about 400 people at the time of this writing. I also unliked quite a few groups and pages that I was a part of.  I didn’t do it for the people or the groups. I did it for myself. Why? Well, that’s another story for another blog.

What have you done to clear the clutter out of your life?

 

 

Why Do We Go To Church?

I love God.

It is important that you know this from the very beginning. He is amazing and is the central part of my life. He has rescued me from so many things that I cannot even spend time telling you. Though I have had a great relationship with God, I have found myself lately with an emptiness. I have a great relationship with my wife and my children. I have a pretty good job. Yet, when it comes to a relationship with other people, there’s a hole.

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I used to think that going to a church was a place where relationships could be formed and perhaps even have friendships that would last a lifetime. Perhaps, I am expecting too much from those in the flock. I have come to the point of asking myself this question; “What is the point of going to church?” I asked this question recently from my readers and here are the answers that I received;

“When we choose not to meet together, we deprive ourselves, we deprive the church, and, of course, we disobey a biblical command to meet together with the fellow members of the Bride.”

“To discover the reason to go to church.”

“Because God is worthy of worship.”

“For me, it’s my time with God plus I can be in community with others. As a cradle Catholic, I find comfort in the ceremony as well as the words. I can go to Mass anywhere and it is basically the same.”

Community. ‘No man is an island’ -John Donne”

“Because it changes us. Every time we are in the Lord’s presence I believe we change. When I hear and receive the Word and let the Holy Spirit show me what it means just for me and I can hear how to apply it to my everyday life…I change for the better every time. I also get to hang with some people and develop great relationships!”

“Family. That is what I miss from not being a member of a church. Divorce hurts.”

These are all great answers. They have good intentions behind them. However, it doesn’t answer the question fully. What I mean is this; is there a real purpose in going to church? I have had many people quote Hebrews 10:25 to me as an answer;

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

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It is credible – it’s the Bible! Here’s the thing; we have to read the whole context of it. To get that context, I have included versus 19-25;

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” v. 19-22

Because of Christ’s death on the cross, we can go into the Most Holy Place with boldness. He can go right into the presence of God without any barrier! This is so good.

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“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” v. 23

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We can hold tight in knowing that God will keep His promises! These are all great things. Now – here’s where I struggle;

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” v. 24-25

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From this, I gather that the reason we go to church is that we encourage one another, love one another, and help one another. Our goal as believers is to be there as a community to build one another up, to love one another, and to help one another in times of need.

What can we do to enrich the lives of others when we go to church?

On Hold | When Your Dreams Seem to be Stalled

Have you ever felt like your dreams were on hold? Have you ever wondered why it is taking God so long? Often, we find ourselves questioning God on His motives and why He hasn’t moved on our behalf. I know that I was and am at a place where I wondered this exact thing. For nearly twenty years, I have had a heart to serve people through coffee. And then the unexpected would happen and keep kicking us off course.  God often will speak to us through the trials that we go through. There are times that I know that He has put things on hold for our dreams. I wouldn’t say that it’s on hold, but that it’s not the right time.

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Daniel was a man of integrity and of great faith. He had been praying and fasting for the nation of Israel and their release. Daniel knew that there was power in fasting and prayer, but it seems like an eternity to hear from God. As a matter of fact, it had been several weeks before God would respond to Daniel’s prayer in the form of an angel.

“And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling. Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.”
Daniel 10:11-13 NLT

I often wonder if our dreams and visions have been hindered because of this very situation. Your prayers enter the very throne room of God and He responds to them (see Ps 18). Not only does He respond, He comes with great authority. There is the threat from the enemy that tries to get in the way of the dream and vision that God has given to you. This causes those dreams to be on hold for a period of time. In 2 Corinthians 10:4, Paul wrote that the “weapons of our warfare are not flesh and blood but for the tearing down of the stronghold.”

angel warrior

As you and I pray and wield the sword, the word of God, we begin tearing down the stronghold of Satan. The answer to the prayers of the saints are answered and we see the miracles of God come forth. My prayer is that though your dream and vision may be on hold, that you wield the sword of the spirit and begin to tear down the power of Satan.

What are you waiting for to happen in your life?

 

5 Things I Learned While Working a MLM

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I have to admit, I thought doing a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) would work out for me and for my family. I thought that if I got out there and tried to convince people to get on board, I would become financially secure.  I really could make a difference selling a product that helped “change lives.” I know you have gotten “that” email or DM from a friend of yours. You know… “What would you do if you could make an extra $500 a month? Let me show YOU how!”

Now, let me preface this with two statements;

  1. We were not conned into doing the MLM that we were a part of. We had genuine friends who thought that it would truly work and that they would be helping our family out.
  2. Do not send me emails or comments about the many ways that I may have missed the mark or what I could have done to make it.

I learned a lot in the year that we did It Works. Personally, the name itself is what turned me off initially. Seriously?? But I understood the marketing aspect of it. You don’t forget a name like that!  I digress. I will say that we never went for broke. We were thoughtful in our intentions and followed a lot of the ways that the “experts” in the company did.

  1. Your Results Will NOT Match the Results of Others. We were part of a pretty successful team. Our upline (people that were over us) and their upline people that were over them) had quite a few people under them. The problem was that we tried to base our success on their success. In MLM, you simply cannot do that. You are not in the market to sell products. You are in the market to recruit. If you cannot recruit at the level your “upline” does, you will not be successful like they are.  That even means hearing from the heads at the conventions that you go to. We went to one and thought about how prideful that the people on stage were because they were boasting about their success and if that we “only follow their steps” that we would be like them too.
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  2. Not Everyone’s Way is the Right Way. In this business, you will get a lot of feedback. A LOT. There’s no end to the advice that you get.  And that can be both a good and bad thing. The good thing – it builds  community and team work. The bad thing – you will never measure up people’s way of thinking because you will always have someone give their opinion.
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  3. Messaging, Emailing, Calling, and Cornering Everyone You Know Will Build Your Business…not so much… So this is the myth that we bought into. We messaged everyone on our friends list (between us over 1000 people) and we were lucky to get the few that we got. In this business, rejection is a way of life. And so is alienating yourself from the people you know. We learned that not everyone is keen on being cornered to become part of something great.
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  4. If You Do Not Believe in it Then No One Will Buy Into It. The products that we sold were supposed to change the lives of people we talked to. The problem is that the products did not always work. We found a couple of items that did for me and let people know. The problem was, I wasn’t sure if they even truly worked. I loved the thought of it. I couldn’t buy into it. People will not buy into it if you will not buy into it.
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  5.  Yes You Can Make Money…Just Not Millions. Before you send me an email about how you know someone who made millions on their MLM, let me say this; the average person does not make millions on these MLM products. Usually, it is a hundred dollars up to several thousand. We personally made a little bit off of it. And we made our money back on it pretty quickly. But we did not made a whole lot. We might have broken $1,000 a year. For all of the hours that we put into it, it was simply not worth it. Before you invest you time, count how much it really costs you to do these things.a-big-fat-wad-of-money-380x253

I remember often being told that you can make these things work even if you do not have a salesman personality. I am sorry to report that this is not true. You are in the market to sell the product, the distributorship, and yourself to anyone that you talk about your MLM.

You may ask, are you still in MLM. Yes. We no longer do the conventions or stay on long phone calls listening to the directors hyping us up. We just listen to the people we know and suggest a product that we have we truly believe that they need it.

Are you a recovering MLM distributor? Are you a current one? What have you/are you learned/learning about the process?

 

In the Shadow of the Almighty

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I am amazed at the awesomeness of God.  I seriously stand amazed at what God is doing and will do for His kids.  In Psalm 91, it says that “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  Right now, I believe that we are experiencing the peace of God through the rest of God.  We are to be resting in Him in the shadow of the Almighty.  Following the “rest” of God is “This I declare of the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him.”  We are refugees of this world in the arms of Christ as we fight on.  It is so easy for you and I to preach to one another.  The hard part is living it.

Several years ago we discovered a major leak in our kitchen.  We had been soaking towels from time to time and could not figure it out.  I moved everything in our mudroom out thinking it was coming from the wall where our bathroom is.  Dry as a bone.  I looked by our water softener, which we haven’t used since we moved in, dry as the desert.  I looked at Sara and said “it’s the fridge.”  I was avoiding that because you and I know that it’s not cheap buying a refrigerator.

The easy thing to do is to rant and rave at the fact that, yet again, we are forking money out that we don’t need to be spending in our one income family.  I have to side step here and will readdress this at a later time but for a one income family with three kids, God has been taking great care of us.  The hard thing to do is to stand back and go, “God we need a great deal.”  Where’s your faith?!  Speak to that fridge and tell it to dry up in Jesus name!

Let’s be real.  Perhaps God wants to bless my family with a greater fridge.  Maybe someone will give us a new one.  Maybe we will find the deal of the century.  What if we didn’t?  I look at the three Hebrew boys in Daniel who were commanded to bow to the statue of the king and refused.  It was said that even if God didn’t save them, they still would not bow down.

Instead of losing our peace or losing our hair, we are, in the shadow of the Almighty, to come to Him and pray.  I have been reading a book called “Just Like Jesus” by Max Lucado which has revolutionized my way of thinking.  Yesterday’s was on “being led by the unseeing hand.”  What would have happened if I had been lead by my own hand?  The next verse of Psalms 91 would not happen.  “For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from the fatal plague.”

But Will, your fridge is leaking.  How is that rescuing you?  This question may arise in your mind.  There are always tests that we live in.  The enemy loves to have a cackle to try you on what God’s word says.  The enemy knows the word and if he can get you off track, he can get you out of the shadow of the Almighty, he will do it.

Be led by the “unseen hand” by being in communication with Him.  I am finding myself more each day being challenged in this area.  If I had a rough week, what would have happened if I had not communicated with the Lord my need? He would not have had the opportunity to fight that battle for me and I would have been off track for what He had planned for me.   With the fridge leaking, my peace is not if my appliances are working, my faith is not in the finances to replace the item, my thoughts are not on who is going to help install it, my focus is not on the principal of the matter.  My peace is in Him who gave me the focus to focus on Him who will provide a way even where there seems to be no way.  What are you doing this week to be in the shadow of the Almighty?  How are you communicating with Him?  Are you communicating with Him? Open the lines of communication with your heavenly Father for He desires to talk to you about everything.

6 Ways to Avoid Social Media Scams

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I have noticed over time that there is a great need for education with Social Media. Have you ever seen an “I bet this won’t get a ‘like'” or “have you seen me?” that is outdated? There are hundreds of opportunities for people with malicious intent to serve yours with malware, viruses, and permanent damage to your computer. There is no need to be fearful, but there is a need to be observant. Here are a few things that I have learned over many years of dealing with Social Media scams.

  • If it is too good to be true… I love a great opportunity like anyone else. I am always looking for ways to create streams of income that will help better our family. There is a fine line between income and scam. For example, if you see an ad online saying that you could be the next millionaire or making statements that you could make a multi-figure income. Reality is that these are often scams that show themselves as a network marketing opportunity or a lucrative business opportunity. Phrases that bring excitement like “This is YOUR time!” or “I made 1,000,000 in one year just by using my phone!”
  • Famous or prominent people contacting you… You are amazing. I will start there. However, if you have someone who claims to be a famous actor/actress, pastor, etc., run away and do it quickly. I have seen many people fall into the trap of believing that someone famous was really interested in them and wanted to talk to them only to have them be scammed out of a boat load of money. If someone claims to be a famous individual and they are reaching out to you, please report them to the social media platform that you are using.
    • Ways to Know a Fake Account from a Real Account;
      • There is no blue check by the name
      • There are misspellings in the name
      • There are misstatements in the profile
      • You receive a message with weird jargon that is out of the character of the famous individual
      • If they ask for you to send money to Western Union.
  • Please share for Prayer… It is innocent enough to share and reshare people asking for prayer for an individual or if a person is missing. The problem is that after a period of time after these being shared and reshared, the person that we are praying for is either completely healed, found, found deceased, or have passed away. The best thing to do is to click on the profile that originated the post. Usually, if they have been sharing this post, there will be updates to the post under their profile or under the post stating what that update is. Why is this important? Predators are out there that will contact you out of your own goodwill to pray only to find that they aren’t even connected to the person that you are praying for.
  • Fun Quizzes are only fun if they are real… The quizzes on Facebook are fun! I love them like the next person. The problem is that many of these quiz sites are full of malware. Just with one click of a link, you can introduce your computer and phone to malicious installments that you are not aware of. These installations can slow down the performance of your device, allow the attacker to capture your keystrokes, and even crash your computer completely. Only go to the quizzes that you are familiar with and that people you trust go to.
  • I bet I won’t even get one share… Personally, things like this really tick me off. First, everyone knows that if you see a sad picture that you are going to share it. Second, the emotions are played on to grab your attention to click. There are some of these that are harmless. There are some, though, that have links within the picture or malicious code that gets downloaded into your computer.
  • Chain Messages – You will be blessed if you… Do I really have to go into this? How many of you remember the chain emails that you would get that would promote prosperity and a gold watch if you share this email? Attackers use these are an opportunity to infect your computer and those that you share it with. Friends don’t let friends share malware…

There are a whole lot more that I could post. It important to use caution when browsing Social Media, but there is no reason to fear because you are equipped to handle it. Simply put, don’t share something that you don’t know where it came from and don’t click on things that aren’t familiar to you.

Do you have a story of a time when you fell victim or caught someone who was trying to finagle their way into your social media? Share it below!

The 56

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Declaration of Independence 4 July 1776

There were 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. These men knew the weight of what they were doing. They knew the gravity that was to be held by their decision to break ties with England and become the nation that we live in today. I often wondered what went through the mind of these 56 men when they signed their death warrant to the King. I believe that they felt in their heart that this was the right thing to do and that someone had to have the nerve to do it.

These men would give up their freedom so that this nation would embrace freedom. The Declaration of Independence was one of the most controversial documents in the history of the country. This document would expose the true feelings of the colonist of America towards the King and his policies. To go against the King of England was to go to your death. Wow. These men decided that their lives were worth losing over this nation’s freedom.

Those men would go down in history as the greatest traitors. They would turn the nation of misfits into a nation of greatness! As you go about your day enjoying the liberties afforded to you, remember those men.

What are your plans for the Fourth of July?

Just Be Yourself

“But the Lord said to Samuel”; “Do not look at his outward appearances or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearances, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7
Throughout the process of leaving my previous employer, I had to unpack quite a few things regarding it. One thing is that I was constantly being challenged to change who I was as a person. There were many leaders who did not like the fact that I spent time with people longer than they would help them understand certain processes. My teaching style is to bring comfort, peace, and understanding to whatever subject that may be with humor and clarity. Constantly, I felt the pressure to be someone that I wasn’t and even tried for a period of time to do so.
Here is the thing about trying to be someone that you are not to please others; you are left miserable and you will never live up to the expectations of those people. You will constantly feel like a failure. You will never measure up. Why? Because we are created to be what God has called us to be. I am not implying that we should not improve in certain areas of our lives. However, I am implying that to change someone’s personality for the sake of making people happy, that is not part of God’s plan with the man.
God is not impressed by your what. He is not even impressed by your who. He loves you just right where you are. He is not looking for a person who is pretending to be a Christian or trying to be perfect. He is looking for someone who will follow Him. He is the only One that you have to live up to. The great thing is that He will never condemn you for being just who you are. He is working behind the scenes for your good.
While we go through this process of acceptance, there will be people who don’t agree with you. They will be angry that you won’t conform to their way of thinking. We had this happen with a family member who did not agree with us on how we raised our children. I dwelt on that for weeks and was deeply hurt by it. However, I had to take this principle to the heart to know that I am not responsible for that person’s joy or acceptance of me. My job is to be accepted and loved by God and in turn, do the same for them.
In the midst of this abandonment by people, we need to find refuge in the fact that God has not abandoned us. He has received us as His own.
“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.”
Psalms 27:10
No matter the situation, we can replace “father and mother” with the issue and this statement is still true. Just an example, “Although my employer has abandoned me, the Lord will hold me close.” God has a special place for those that have been abandoned. I firmly believe that He does. When we have that occur in our lives, it is easy to become bitter. I know that I have been tempted to be bitter and unforgiving. It is a daily challenge to walk in forgiveness and love towards those who hurt us. But God has given us the strength in knowing that He has our back.
At the end of the day, God has given us the strength and the courage through His word. When you get tempted to be someone else, find your strength in Him.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, He will never leave nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 21:6

Five Musts of an Unemployed Rock Star

Have you recently found yourself unemployed? Whatever the reason for your departure, you have entered the new world of endless hours and countless opportunities. It is easy to get home from the initial meeting and throw in the towel in life. Perhaps just giving up is an option. The only problem with that is…you’re a rock star and rock stars don’t quit. So what do you do now that you are an Unemployed Rock Star? I have five keys that I am finding that works in my life as I go through this journey.

1. Read. I found myself at a place where I didn’t want to read. Why? I have the gift of cynicism. You know – why try if it is going to fail anyway, right? Reading helps jog the mind into activity and also grows the knowledge of the person who is reading. When you read while you are unemployed, you are more likely to get out of any funk that you are in.

2. Stay on Schedule. I was tempted at one point to just stay in bed and not get up until noon. I didn’t want to be on a schedule because I had just spent the last twenty years doing just that. If that is the case, why did I stay on a schedule? It gave me a purpose. That’s right, I am not just aimlessly floating around the universe. Keeping on a schedule will help you in your job hunt too and self-employment endeavors as well.

3. Stay Active. Who doesn’t like to sit around all day and binge watch the season of their favorite shows? This may be okay for a day or so, but like lobster to the rich…it will get old. It’s important that you get up and get out. Make a plan to walk. Make a plan to run if you can. Make a plan to move off the couch and into the office to look for a job. Simple steps to staying active will help you become even more the rock star that you already are.

4. Keep Looking. There are millions of jobs out there that you don’t qualify for. There are thousands of companies that are not looking for you. Here’s the kicker – YOU HAVE CHOICES! That means you can keep looking until you land that amazing opportunity that you have been looking for.

5. Don’t Give Up Hope. This might be the most important part of this piece. Why? When you have looked and looked over and over again for a job, it is easy to get depressed. It is easy to get discouraged. I have been there! You can’t give up hope. Too many people need you. I don’t mean your family and friends – they are important. I mean the world needs you. Why? Rock stars don’t get to where they are by themselves. They have a community that knows their potential.

Okay. Now you have 5 ways to set in a great habit. What are you going to do next?

Bonus Content

After the fact, there was an addition that I felt was important for this piece. It might be the most important part of this post.

Learn. I know I mentioned reading earlier. I feel this is beyond simply reading. This is the part where you can now reinvent yourself. I sure did. I changed professions and entered a new career. I learned lessons in IT which opened the door to a renewed passion for technology. What are you wanting to learn?

You grab my latest book Unpacked : Life Lessons of an Unemployed Rock Star !!

What to Do When You’re Robbed

First, I want to take a moment and apologize for the silence since last month. I am one who doesn’t like to put a piece on here without giving you 100% and I honestly haven’t had content pouring out of the wells of inspiration. I often wrote my posts on things that I personally went through and am currently going through, yet I haven’t been able to pour it into this avenue.

Partially it is because of technology. My laptop completely quit and that was my primary medium to write. And partially because I’ve not had the desire. Not that you guys aren’t important. You guys are amazing! However there are times that the joy just isn’t there. The words just do not fill the page.

There are times that we feel robbed in life. You didn’t get the promotion you thought you’d get. You didn’t have the money to get something you wanted. Your dream suddenly vanishes. Your child goes off the right path. Your spouse leaves. Do I need to keep going?

Today I got to thinking about what I could do. It is so much easier to give up. But that would be counter productive. Here are a few things that came to mind that I’ve done in the past that have helped.

1. Turn on some great music.

I don’t mean a Tear in my Beer or some song about getting even. I mean upbeat music.

2. Dance like no-one else is watching.

Don’t do this while driving. Seriously. Don’t. No One wants to see that. And it’s dangerous.

3. Get out if the house.

Being in the house can be great but when you’ve been robbed… it is like locking yourself in prison.

4. Read.

I have found that if I read, it takes my mind off of the robbery.

I’m not perfect. Just read the first part of this entry. I struggle. That just means I’m still alive!

Let me know what you think; comment and like this post. Share with a friend. No…really….

Forget Not Those Who Gave All

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santayana

Today, many of you who read this will go out and BBQ, celebrate the day off or watch some great sports on TV. There will be some who will party like its 1999. There will be a few that will wake up and find that today is just another, ordinary Monday morning. However, there are those that will wake up this morning on a cot in the desert of Mosul or in the war-torn countries in the Middle East. Some will wake up on a ship in the Gulf while many will wake up on a base in Germany. Then there are the bodies of those who fought many years ago for our freedom and yes, even the unknown soldier’s tomb will have a wreath laid upon it. There will be those that will somberly remember their family members to whom they said their final goodbye not so long ago.

Today, as you go out, don’t feel guilty about enjoying that freedom. Go out and thank God above that there are those to whom went before you in battle and sacrificed theirs for yours. I love the quote in the beginning of this piece. Why? It is so easy to forget the lessons that we have learned upon fighting for that very freedom – both good and bad. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and remember all of those to whom went before us.

Façade | When We Hide Our Authenticity

“Under the shadow of our steeple
With all the lost and lonely people
Searching for the hope that’s tucked away in you and me.”
Casting Crowns Does Anybody Hear Her

Many of us, where we should feel the most comfortable, wear a façade in the church.  Behind the masks lie hurt, pain, betrayal, history, sickness, and so much more. We are covered up to protect our true identity, our true selves, who we are in Christ. While you and I should feel completely raw and transparent, we find ourselves in fear of ridicule and rejection. Where we should be completely open and honest, we find ourselves entangled with exaggeration and denial. Where we should be received by our peers, we become ostracized and rejected. Where we should be accepted, we find ourselves shielded from approval.

I know that it is a bit raw. One of the things that you and I must come to terms with is that we are all wearing some sort of a façade or a mask. A façade is nothing more than a cover-up that hides us from the real person that God has called us to be. As a believer, I found myself under all the categories that I mentioned and so much more. I let one of my co-workers read the first part of this portion and they made a statement that is ever so true; we are often trying to come to Jesus completely clean when Jesus wants us to come to Him just as we are.

Jesus did not die so you or I could just have another set of rules and regulations to adhere to. Jesus did not go to the cross to suffer so that we could come together in a small gathering, pretend to like what is going on and the people that we are hanging around, act as if nothing is wrong with our lives, and to think that we are going to win the world to Christ. Friend, we are called to be authentic. Jesus did not hide His identity nor did He hide His true feelings. We often found Christ confronting the leaders of this religion

Another Moment Closer

Whenever we are tempted to give up, we often miss this point – we are another moment closer to our miracle happening, we are another moment closer to our lives changing, we are another moment closer to the answer, we are another moment closer to the healing, etc. I know in my life it would have been easy to give up on so many things when it got hard. But if we all gave up on the hard things in life, we would have missed out on the great things that came out of it. Let’s take the ministry of Jesus. Jesus had more times than not been rejected for the message that he carried. He could have soften His message or changed the verbiage of it. However, He did not. He took His message out for those who would hear it. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus came to a pivotal point in His journey.

Jesus came to the Garden with His disciples who had joined Him.

“Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” Matthew 26:38

This is important to understand. So many people, well meaning, say that Jesus was willing to go to the cross without question. Jesus’ was to the point where he was going to die and He knew it. He was full of distress and grief in knowing that He would soon be going through the pain that He would have to endure. This encourages me. It shows me that Jesus felt what I would feel if I were faced with the same circumstance. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” What an amazing statement! Jesus could sympathize with what we would go through. His soul ached with sorrow and agony.

 “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will…He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.’… And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. “ Matthew 26:39, 42, 44

Jesus begged God to allow this cup to move from Him, but God would not. This would have been the point where Jesus had a decision to make. Being perfect, we see Him making the decision that He would go to the cross for us. Being a man, we have trouble reconciling the fact that He did not want to go to the cross. His decision was to move from the currently moment to another moment; the day that He would defeat the enemy and overcome the power of the grave.

On a lesser scale, I can remember a time when I wanted to give up. I had lost my job, could not find a new job, had vehicles breaking down, bills that needed to get paid, taking classes to get a new job but failing each test, and struggling to keep a new job because I had trials going on while I was starting over again. All of these things happened in an 18 month period of time for my wife and me. It could have been easier to give up and allow myself to just settle for what life was giving us. But I know that I was one moment away from victory. I was another moment closer to overcoming. I had to keep pressing into what God wanted for our lives.

When you want to give up just remember, you are one moment closer to your miracle! You are a moment closer to receiving all that you need! You are another moment closer to seeing that wayward child come home! You are one moment closer to seeing the healing of a loved one! You are one moment closer to seeing breakthrough! Don’t give up – keep pressing in!

Man in the Mirror

I have found myself often early in the morning looking at a reflection. The person on the other side of the looking-glass could scare fleas off a dog. Perhaps if his hair had been more kept or even if his eyes were so bloodshot.  He would be looking as if he didn’t know how he got into bed last night. I know, it doesn’t sound hyper-spiritual.  Stick with me though. You never know where this could go.

Every morning I get up, I go to get ready for my day.  I look in the mirror and make sure that I don’t have gobs of sleep stuck to my eyes.  I also make sure that the hair I have in my head is mine and not strands from my cat, wife, or kids. I look in the mirror and I reflect on what I need to look like for the day.  I make sure that I reflect the image of a successful person.

I have to admit I have been struggling though. I have not been the Godly daddy that I should be.  There’s a mirror that I often fail to reflect on each morning. There’s a mirror that I often have to dust to get even see a reflection in the morning.  I won’t promise or even have a new year’s resolution on it.  There is always room for improvement but thank God I am doing better than I used to.

This mirror, the Word of God, is the litmus test of who I am to become. In James 1:21-25, James wrote on not just listening and reading the word but actually doing it.  In verse 23-24 he writes “For you, if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.”

It’s so easy to look at the mirror in the morning to remove all the junk from your face and hair but the minute you walk out the door, you tend to forget what junk you had to remove.  It’s not on the forefront of your mind for today’s agenda.  I don’t want to be like that when it comes to God’s word.  I want to always remember what I looked at in the mirror so that I can be improving not because I am under some kind of law but it is because I love the One who chose to love me regardless of what I see.

As I reflect on the man in the mirror, my prayer is that he will be a reflection of Christ.  I pray that my children will see their father as a reflection of the Heavenly Father.  I want to be the Godly daddy that I have been called to be.  I don’t want to be weighed down by law, however, I want to be weighed down by His love.

In Awe of God

“There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.”
― C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce

             A couple of years ago, I went camping in Missouri with my family and we just enjoyed the beautiful nature that was created around us.  On the first night, the sky was so clear you could see all of the stars in the sky as far as the eye could see. I was reminded of Psalms 8:3-4, which says “When I view and consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained and established, What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of [earthborn] man that You care for him? “  Could you imagine all those stars in heaven being numbered and known by their name by their Creator?  In Psalms 147, the psalmist wrote “He determines and counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by their names.” After reading this, it puts in perspective of how awesome God really is.

        I used to find myself saying “awesome” so much that I could hear God saying “is it really awesome?”  When God spoke that into my heart, I looked up the word awe and awesome. The meaning was this “have an overwhelming feeling of reverence.”  I just couldn’t imagine saying that ice cream made me have an overwhelming feeling of reverence. I mean, I love it and it makes me feel good but does it make me have an overwhelming reverence for it?  I don’t think so. I had to then ask myself, am I in Awe of God? Whenever we talk about God, do we talk about Him as “the big man upstairs?” Or do we talk about Him as the Alpha, the Omega, the Beginning, and the End?  

        We serve a God who cannot be destroyed and cannot be outdone.  We serve a God that presented Himself in the form of a babe that grew to be a man who died on the cross so that you and I can have a relationship with Him.  No longer is there a barrier between him and me. No longer is there an awkward silence or delayed response. Now, it is you and God. There is no one to cut in the line in front of you.  There isn’t any dial tone. There is no busy signal. There is no rejection. You and God are One on one. How incredible is that? It’s not a deep message; it’s not anything that you have to fast and pray on to figure out.  It’s pretty simple, our God is an awesome God!

The Reason I Do Not Post Rants Online

In a day and age where it is so easy to type something up on social media, create a website, blog, send an email, text, etc, it is even more easy to speak our minds.  It is easier to fire now and ask questions later. How many times have you run across a social media post that made your stomach sink because you knew something was amiss about it? Or when you overheard a well-meaning person saying not-so-well-meaning thoughts about someone you know?

Case in point – we have been dealing with several issues over this past semester with one of our daughters. She was getting bullied by someone at school and they were causing problems in the classroom.  We addressed it and it seemed to be all taken care of. Then, she came home saying that this person had done something wrong to her again. I addressed it with the teacher, principal, and vice-principal of the school. They looked into it and got back to me.

A week later, I followed up with the teacher to see how things were going. A few things had come to light about her story with the teacher and I had to get to the bottom of it. Sara and I sat down with her and talked about her story. We already knew beforehand that there were a few holes in it but they seemed minor and easy to misinterpret. After a few more minutes, I began to realize that she made the whole thing up. I probed her for a little more info and finally, she admitted that she had made it all up to get even with the girl for all that she had done to her.

Why am I telling you this?  How many times have you seen someone go Facebook or some other platform and blast their opinions out there without getting all of the facts? It would be easy to just sit down and type out or post a video that blasted someone or a school about their policies and about their handling of the kids. Do they always get it right?  Absolutely not. Do I always get it right? You guessed it…absolutely not.

One thing that I have tried to follow is the principle found in 1 Corinthians 13:9;

Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!

Ouch! For me, this scripture really affected how I look at the situation that I am in.  I only know in part! You only know in part! That means we don’t know the whole story and we shouldn’t be so quick to jump to conclusions.  In James 1:19, we read the text that steps on all of our toes;

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

What would happen if we, instead, would be slow to type and quick to listen? instead of vomiting our opinions of a situation that we only know in part of that we would go to God and pray for His direction (See James 1:5). Friend, can I make a challenge to you?

Be Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak, and Slow to Get Angry.

Developing a Spirit of Expectancy

“Then Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!”
1 Kings 18:41

         At this point, the region was under a great drought. They hadn’t seen rain for quite some time and they found themselves in desperate need of water.  Could you imagine Ahab’s face when Elijah told him that there was a mighty rainstorm coming?  I guess I could see the face of a shock and surprise or great speculation. Regardless, Ahab obeyed Elijah and Elijah went about doing his own business. 

“So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees. Then he said to his servant, ‘Go and look out toward the sea.’  The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.’ Seven times Elijah told him to go and look.”
1 Kings 18:42-43 

Notice, Elijah sent his servant out seven times to see if there was rain on the way. Elijah did not lose hope when the servant came back the first time. He began to develop a spirit of expectancy.  He wouldn’t have sent the servant out seven times unless he knew it would happen.  It would have been easy for him to give up and say “I have tried so many times and still I haven’t seen it come to past. I might as well give up.” Instead, Elijah sent his servant out again.

“Finally, the seventh time, his servant told him, ‘I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.”
1 Kings 18:44

I sense some sarcasm here. Wouldn’t you? I can’t read between the lines, but I wonder if Elijah’s servant had enough of this running back and forth to see if there was any rain coming. Then again, it could be that he was so full of faith that he believed that the very small cloud was an answer to prayer. Elijah, perhaps, knew best;

“Then Elijah shouted, ‘Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”

Now – that is powerful! Can you imagine the look on the face of the servant? There was probably a shocked expression. You have to admit, you’d be shocked too. And God did not waste His time on responding to their faith. 

“And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel. Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel.”

 What does this all have to do with you and me? We have to become like Elijah. We have to become the servant who ran and looked for rain. We have to become Ahab who, even before he saw the cloud, go eat.  We have to get to the point where when we feel that God is speaking greatness and a dream in our heart that we don’t doubt but that we develop a spirit of expectancy.  Right now as I write this, I would love to tell you that I have perfected this.  I would love to say that I am developing a spirit of expectancy.

I have to be honest with you. This past year has shaken me to my core. Though I have been in peace through most of it, I have a hard time dreaming and believing that the rain is coming. I don’t believe that Elijah was without doubt.  He was human. Just read the next chapter! I believe that even in our own disbelief that we have to build that spirit of expectancy.  In Mercy Me’s Even Ifthere is a line that reads “They say it only takes a little faith to move a mountain. Good thing, a little faith is all I have right now.” Just imagine if faith the size of a grain of mustard seed is enough to move mountains (see Matthew 17:20 ). 

I believe that we have to believe that we will see our dreams come to past in our lifetime. We could all have a theological debate and split hairs over what each of us believes in. I want to propose this to you; would you rather expect something big and get something small or expect something small and receive nothing? 

I love this song from Elevation Worship and I hope it ministers to you!

William J. Howell

Don’t Miss Your Opportunity

“Never give in! Never, never, never!”
Winston Churchill
October 29, 1941
Harrow School

This quote came from a speech that Winston Churchill had given to the at Harrow School at the height of World War 2.  During this time, Churchill recounted the war’s history and the struggles that they had gone through in order to persevere. He instructed these very students to remain strong and faithful during the dark times with the encouragement that they could, indeed, overcome. In the dark days that we go through, we need the Winston Churchills to encourage us to overcome.

Imagine, though, we had just given up on everything that we dreamed of all because we were worn out from all of the trials.  What would become of all of the Albert Einsteins, Thomas Edisons, Henry Fords, and other famous men and women if they had given up before accomplishing their goal?  Thomas Edison was famous for saying after the lightbulb’s creation; “I did not fail 10,000 times. I found 10,000 ways that it didn’t work.”  We’d probably be living in the dark and not enjoying the lives that we had if Edison had simply given up after so often failing.

In Chip Gaines in his book Captial Gaines: Smart things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff, Gaines writes;

“Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from that pursuit. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t taken a few chances—sometimes they panned out, but even when they didn’t, I never let failure break my focus. If you believe in something, you gotta go after it.”

When we take the fear out of failure, it is just another adventure.  Because Chip and Joanna Gaines decided to head feet first into their ventures, they did not allow fear to overtake them. Let’s look at someone who allowed fear to keep them from amazing things.

        Recently, I read this story of a man who gave up before something great would have happened.  Bjarni Herjólfsson was a Norse-Icelandic explorer who traveled between Norway and Iceland on a normal basis as a merchant.  At one point, he had decided to visit his parents only to find out that his father had gone to Greenland.

        Setting his sails towards Greenland, a storm erupted causing his boat to veer off course. After some time, he finally came to land. However, he did not get off the boat and explore thinking about being home. He turned the boat around and headed back to his homeland. Little did he know, Herjólfsson saw America. But because he refused to get out of the boat and went back to something familiar, he missed out on becoming the first European to find America. Rumors swirled for many hundred years about lands to the West, but no one had successfully sailed to them until Christopher Columbus in 1492.

       How many times have we been like Bjarni Herjólfsson?  We hit storm after storm while finding ourselves completely defeated. We let defeat seep into our hearts and we give up on the things that we believe that God is calling us to do.  Today, I want to encourage you to set your sails, prepare for what lies ahead, and go!

In The Midst – I Know The Plans

 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

It may be one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. Before you stop there and go “I know this already,” hear me out because I had a revelation recently in this scripture. Maybe you already knew it, but I didn’t know this; God made this promise during in the middle of their captivity.  Say what? Let’s look at the first verse;

Jeremiah wrote a letter from Jerusalem to the elders, priests, prophets, and all the people who had been exiled to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar.

In the middle of their captivity, God spoke into their hearts that He would do great things for them and not evil. When I came across this, it lit up like a lightbulb to me. So often, we think that when things are going right in our life that this is where God does great things for us. It isn’t true. Israel had been held captive by their enemies for quite some time. I am sure that they had been ready to give up. But God, through the prophet Jeremiah, spoke to their hearts that it was time to rebuild their lives even in the midst of their captivity.

John Maxwell wrote in the John Maxwell Leadership Bible;

“Even in Israel’s darkest hour, God assured the people of His plans to prosper them and give them a hopeful future. Just so, even when we don’t see immediate results, we can remain assured of God’s ultimate blessing and benefit. The fruit may not come immediately, but it will come ultimately.”

       Wow! Could you imagine even in the midst of all that you are going through to know that God has an ultimate plan that is coming for you?  Will it be easy? No!  I wish I could say yes. But all throughout scripture, we see that God’s people did not have it easy.

  1. Abraham (Hebrews 11:8-10) Abraham left everything behind that he knew into a land that he did not know to take hold of a promise that he had not seen. Along the way, he encountered countless obstacles but still, by faith, persevered.
  2. Sarah (Hebrews 11:11-12) Sarah gave birth to Isaac at a very old age. Before this, she went almost 100 years without bearing a child which, in Bible times, was frowned upon. It was considered a curse from God if you could not have children.
  3. Noah (Genesis 6) Noah was born into a world that was chaotic and evil. God decided to while the slate clean and start all over. He chose Noah to build a huge boat in the middle of the desert. That seems all fine and dandy until you hear that it had never rained and there weren’t any boats. He was ridiculed and slandered. But he never wavered. The flood came and he lives with his family to repopulate the earth.
  4. David (1 Samuel 18-31:5) A very long portion of history, David was chased by Saul because David had the anointing of God on his life and was considered more favorable by the people.  This made Saul jealous, resentful, and murderous. Crazed by this jealousy, Saul attempted to kill David only to find his own demise by his own sword by his own hands.
  5. Job (Job) We all know about Job. Plagued by trials, Job lost every single thing he had. He had “friends” that made you want to say “with friends like these, who needs enemies?!” Job lamented throughout the book only to have God remind him sternly that He was God and what He can do. Then, God restored everything to him…and then some.

I could go on and on. Not to belabor the point, but in the middle of our adversity God is working things out for our good. No matter how hard it is, no matter the trial we go through, no matter how many times we want to give up, God is still working it all for our good.

I don’t tell you this just because it’s some feel-good message. I tell you this because I have been there. I have been in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death time and time again. I am there right now. But I have to have some sort of hope that God will redeem it all. When I read this verse, it put it all in a whole new light for me. I hope it has for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Day of Small Beginnings

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”
Zechariah 4:10 NLT

I used to hate these words; “Don’t despise the day of small beginnings.” Geeze. How long do I have to wait for this small beginning to become big? When will that breakthrough occur? When will I see the day of plenty?! I know, you being holy, have never uttered these words. But I have and plenty of times. Recently, I walked out of a testing center for an exam that I was taking and just failed it. I had studied so hard only to find out that I had flunked it. Really?!

What I felt at the time was utter defeat. I am not going to lie. I was upset. But one thing that I went back to was this, in my earlier days I would have just given up. Now, I see it as a challenge. I will not despise the days of small beginnings. Just think about Jesus.

At 30, Jesus was an unknown son of a carpenter. No one knew who He was. He hadn’t performed any documented miracles. He laid low. So low that he lived in a town that people would ask “can anything good come from Nazareth?”* One day, Jesus was at a party and the people had drunk up all the good stuff. His mother, knowing who He really was, said that it was time. Time? Time for what?

Jesus would respond to his mother ““Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”** His mother knew that the time was coming and instructed the servants to do whatever he said. Little did she know that Jesus would step into the miracle that would solidify His ministry on this earth. The servants did just as Jesus had told them and the rest is all history. 

But what would have happened if Jesus had gotten stuck in the days of small beginnings?What would have happened if His mother hadn’t felt the nudge to tell Him? I challenge you today to get beyond the day of small beginnings. Prepare for the day of plenty.

*John 1:46

 

Don’t Give Up On God

       I remember saying that time and time again as a young person in the faith. I always made excuses for not giving money in the offering whether it be that there be an important event coming up or “I didn’t have it.” I came to a crossroad in my walk with God in 2006 while I was starting over in life.

      Fresh out of bankruptcy I moved to Saint Louis, Missouri where I began my life as a file room clerk at Washington University. I didn’t have a lot but that was alright with me because it was better than nothing. Everything seemed to fall into place for me while I was getting settled in my new apartment in North County. Shortly after my move, I started dating my wife to be and we attended the church that she grew up in and every Sunday there would be a teaching on tithing. It would honestly bother me because I started to feel like most people feel when they hear the teacher get up and talk about it; it’s always about the money.

      I decided one day to challenge God on this principle. Every time the message was given, it was always given with Malachi 3 where the people of Israel were challenged to test God on their giving. As I began this journey, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect but what happened next changed my perspective on it. In the first week of my tithing; I blew out two tires within days and my car was broken into. That’s not encouraging for a new tither, but I was determined to see God move on this principle.

      Let’s fast forward ten years later. At the time of this writing, my income hasn’t gone up substantially. I haven’t seen a new BMW plop down in front of me. I haven’t had a gold watch fall into my lap. I haven’t received promotions and increases like many of my brothers and sisters in Christ claim will happen when I tithe. Wait, don’t shut me down yet…I have a point. In Psalms, David wrote, “I was young and now I am old yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread.” Sara and I have never lacked anything that we need. We do not have a fancy house or fancy cars but we have a home that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer, we have money in the bank for a rainy day, we have children that are healthy, and no debt besides our home.

         “Well, that’s fine and dandy for you Will but I am up to my ears in debt and I can’t afford to keep the lights on!” I remember those days. This message isn’t for the millionaire. This message is for the dad who has been struggling with three jobs and hasn’t had a decent paycheck. This is for the dad who is trying to get his children fed. This message is for the man who has been struggling to get his mortgage paid for.

        Friend, this is to encourage you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. This is to encourage you that if you don’t quit there will be a harvest (see Galatians 6:9). This is to encourage you that when you get that pink slip or that red letter on your door to focus not on the paper but on the Provider! Don’t you give up because some man told you that you would never make it! Don’t you quit because you get some kind of notice on your door because you didn’t have the money at the time to pay it! Don’t you quit because some voice is telling you lies and filling you with negativity! No! You push in and press into what God has for you! I am not saying God is going to send you a BMW but what I am saying is that My God WILL Supply ALL your needs! In Matthew 6, Jesus said that if you being fathers who are evil will provide food for your children how much more will your Heavenly Father provide for you? That will preach on its own right there! God is in the business of providing!