Wednesday, October 24, 2012


If I die at age 100 and look back, I imagine that I'll have spent an entire life floating between a life of extremes, trying to grasp the balance that lays in the middle.  We see this lived out for us daily in our lives...the way we spend money, the political rhetoric, talk shows, tv, movies, and we see it in the way we one day have plenty of energy and pretty soon are exhausted.

I'm exhausted.

For a solid 2 months now I've been working my tail off (and thank God!).  It's been exceedingly busy this month with very productive conversations and meetings, but my mind and body are on the edge of failure.  It's times like this that rest is so very important.  And if I don't make time for rest, my body will- it will simply give out.

So, I cut out early today to find a little more balance between working hard and being wise.  Wisdom tells us work diligently when the harvest comes, but do so in a way where we don't die in the process.  So, I'll take that option and see if it doesn't end at a better destination.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fishing on the other side of the boat

If you walk in my office, you'll find a 3' x 3.5' painting of the disciples fishing out in a lake.  On the shore you'll see a dozen footprints in the sand with the waves lapping up against them.  This is from John chapter 21 where the disciples after fishing after Jesus' resurrection.  After casting their nets out all night and into the morning, they have not caught one fish (since they're professional fishermen, this has to be a low point for them).  Then what happens?  Jesus walks up on the scene and tells them to throw their nets off the other side of the boat.  They do, and their nets overflow with caught fish (as a side note, I'm kind of impressed that the professionals actually listened to some random guy on the beach telling them to do something as arbitrary as throw their nets off the other side of the boat; seriously, would you or me actually do this?  I'd probably get frustrated and throw a rock at the guy.  As if they hadn't tried that yet?!)

Years ago, Kim painted this picture for me to help me remember that my job is to simply throw out the fishing line and God will be the one to bring in the catch.  It's helped me make it through trying times when it feels like the wheels are falling off and I've run out of steam entirely.  It's helped me focus on my calling rather than the results of my occupation.

It's good to remember that we aren't responsible for success- God is.  We are to walk the path He has given us and that is it.  Whether it leads to success or failure, wealth or poverty, we are to walk the path He has provided.  And by doing so, we experience the joy of living with Christ.

In April/May my business slowed dramatically as I began to run out of contacts in which to connect.  I became frustrated and stressed, partly because of financials, but mostly because I had the desire and time to serve others, yet couldn't find anyone to serve!  Then in June, I somehow received the idea (was it my idea, someone else, God's?  I really don't know) to reach out to people I had never reached out to before.  Largely through Facebook and other social networks, I began circling up with people from years and years ago.  And what has happened?  Suddenly there are plenty of people to reach out to and my boat is overflowing with fish!!! 

It's so difficult to see God at work when we're in the midst of it.  But, when we reflect we see the masterpiece of the story He is creating.  2-3 years ago Kim painted me this picture to keep me in the game.  I had no idea that years later, God would ask me to throw my nets on the other side of the boat and bring in a great catch just like is illustrated above my desk.

It's a blessing that I get to serve so many great people.  It's even a greater blessing that I get to serve simply because I listened to God telling me to call on people I had never called on before.

Is Christ moving you into a time where things are drying up?  Maybe it is because He is leading you to step out in faith on a new path, for a new purpose, with a new group of people?  Maybe He's putting you in a situation like me of frustration and desperation to also give you the joy of hauling in a huge catch which you had no part in creating.  You just get to haul it in and then swim to the shore to meet back up with Him.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Giving Thanks

After a month of struggle and desperation to get the ball moving again, it's the little glimmers of hope that help me continue.  I had another person today whom I haven't spoken to in years and reached out to this week say that they'd love to meet about planning.  I'm so thankful to God for these moments.  I feel like most of my time is spent in one long drawn out prayer of desperation, clinging to our Lord while doing all I can to do what He has asked me to do.  And then the moments of hope enfuse my confidence in Him and the habits given me to do.

Thank you!  May I continue to persevere in this time of dryness, resting under Your wings as often as I can.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Season of Prayer

It's been a while since I've written here, and what better way to get back into it than through prayer... Lord, teach me Your ways and how to walk the path You've laid out for us. Make me to know and remember that it is You who provides for us, it is You who gives strength, it is You we serve. May we become little so you can reign in our lives. Provide for us as You have promised; may we rely on you fully and yet work hard to plow the fields You've allotted us. May we not forget You or the great work that You have provided us. Bless us as we seek to do the best we can with what You've given. Amen.

Monday, May 21, 2012

So, There is a God!

Probably most of my life I have spent talking to the ceiling or the wall or the steering wheel hoping to hear back from our super-natural friend, God.  And most of the time there is no response.  Why?  I really don't know, but my guess is that our heart and soul aren't in our prayers.  We kind of recite some litany of words we're supposed to string together in certain times or for certain people, and that's supposed to mean something.  However, when our heart and soul is tied up into our plea, it seems God hears us better.  Or rather, He hears what our heart is actually saying and it is finally in line with our prayer.

This past week I became overwhelmed with the circumstances kicking our butts right now.  And through tears, I asked Him to help us with our car.  Within an hour I heard back from the mechanic that Honda said they'd fix my car for free since it was a problem that has developed with all of those models of Hondas.  AWESOME.  Thank you God!

Also this past week I couldn't take anymore of the depression in my business.  I have tried to reach out to everyone I can think of, asked for referrals, trying to get some sort of momentum happening; yet none came.  Again, I literaly cried out to God about this, telling Him exactly what I've done and tried to do and that I can't do anything else.  I'm tapped out, I'm done.  I literally have no more ideas, energy, or desire to do this.  And within an hour I receive an email with five referrals.  Thank you Lord! 

So, there is a God!  And it turns out He does listen, He does care, and He does rescue us.  Maybe it is just that we try to rely on His intervention way too soon and too often.  Do we have to exhaust ourselves before He steps in?  Maybe so.  Otherwise, it wouldn't be Him rescuing us; He'd just be helping us build our own lives, instead of us learning how to live His life in us.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

When The Wheels Come Off

This morning a friend of mine became irrationally angry and frustrated and took that frustration out on me and another friend. Since this person is one of the sweetest people on the planet, it's obvious that the behavior was completely abnormal. I'm nearly positive that it is a side affect of the anti-depression medicine they are taking to help cope with recent grief.

Two days ago I became extremely frustrated after a potential client chose not to do what was in their best interest and committed to take a less wise path of financial planning. People choosing to do things that are not at all in their own best interest all the time. So, why I did I get so frustrated?

Because three days before then, in a matter of 24 hours, I learned that I owed about $9,000 to a company I work with because they had overpaid me 12 months ago. Then on my way home, my car's engine died resulting in a $3,000 bill to fix it. On top of that, April was a low income month for my business which means I needed a better May. May was set up to be a huge income month, but surprisingly to me, a majority of people chose to delay or decide against doing what they had previously decided to do. In a nut shell, I had a financial emergency that totaled $12,000, I had a bad month with income, and I became extremely stressed out, determined to wear myself out emotionally and mentally in an attempt to fix this situation.

So, this brings me to a few conclusions. One: our behavior often has aboslutely nothing to do with the present circumstances.  It nearly always has to do with something else that is leading us to act a certain way.  Two: it's always a good idea to do proper planning and preparation. If Kim and I hadn't set aside savings along the way, we'd pretty much be screwed right now instead of just stressed. Three: God clearly wants something different for us than we want. Since my plan involved bringing in plenty of income to make significant financial strides and God's plan involved us getting pushed back financially, clearly we have to different paths. And I'm okay with that. In fact, my initial reaction to all of this was a good one. I was excited to see what God was doing and why and what would come from it...but when reality hit about what that means to us directly, it was difficult to keep a level head. Four: thinking of my friend, we as a community need to find ways to breathe life into each other, not simply look for a medication to help (yes there are some cases where it is helpful, but on the whole, we are way over medicated). The side affects from not overflowing life to others are even more disastrous than those of the medicine.

I guess I'll leave us with this thought: when the wheels come off in life, where do we run? Do we medicate? Do we get frustrated and internally explode? Do we try to Rambo up and try to march through it on our own? Or is there some way to dive into community, lean on others, seek council and love and support and friendships and listening ears that will allow us to get through our struggles in one piece? Is it possible to find peace amidst the storm?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Shedding fears

I highly recommend that everyone takes time to unplug regularly. 

It had been about 7 months since Kim and I got away by ourselves to do nothing but breathe, and it was long overdue.  So we jumped in the Vibe and headed to Orange Beach, Alabama to spend time bodyboarding, playing sand volleyball, making a sandcastle that very quickly became a pile of wet sand, finding seashells, throwing a frisbee, watching the sunrise, and watching the dolphins swim past in the gulf.  We had a wonderful time.

We didn't have an agenda; we really didn't even have a plan.  And if you know me, that's pretty unusual.  But to not have the burden of work or family or dogs or any semblance of responsibility was a welcomed breath of fresh air.  It helped put things in perspective...

About 8:30 on Saturday morning we decided to go out on the beach and do some bodyboarding.  The weather was perfect: 78 degrees, the water just cool enough to refresh us.  As we stepped our toes into the water a school of about 100 stingrays swelled in front of us. 

Now, I don't know about you, but jumping into the water while a huge crowd of stingrays pass by is not my first impulse.  No, we were thinking of Steve Irwin and thought they'd probably kill us.  So, we waited till we figured they were long gone before we went in.  Minutes later, another huge group of rays swam by and we quickly swam/ran/crawled out of the water as quickly as we could!  It was only later at about 9:30 that someone came by and told us they were mostly harmless.  It turns out, if you don't splash or kick or run, stingrays will actually just swim around you and not hurt or attack.  And this is the truth!  We had stingrays swim by us (or in Kim's case, brush her legs...kind of freaked her out a bit :)), yet they didn't harm us at all.  Instead, we were able to see the beauty of these crazy creatures as the lurked by and have an absolute blast riding the waves onto the beach with bodyboards!

So, this got me many times are we freaked out by things that are mostly harmless?  By setting our own imagination at work conjuring up some reason to be afraid, we instill our own fear into our lives.  I literally do this on a daily basis.  We get startled by things that have no real harm to them and we create fear that then places our lives in chains; keeping us from enjoying the good life. 

Consider how much less we would have enjoyed the beach if we couldn't get in the water!  (by the way, Kim and I are not sun-bathing type people.  Kim will burn in about 15 seconds and I just get bored).  Yet, it wasn't our own strength or determination or intellect that led to us being freed from the fear of stingrays.  Someone else had to speak into our lives and help us realize that there was nothing to fear.

Who in your world do you know who is fearful of something?  What if you stepped into their world and helped them see that fear is the issue, not the actual stingray?  Who's life could you change?  Who could you meet eyeball to eyeball and bring them out of fear and into life to the fullest?

Love the person in front of you; because we all are living lives ruled by fear and all need this life to the fullest.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Building Bigger Kingdoms

I'm standing in our backyard, watching our dog Joey lick the last remnants of the strawberry banana smoothie I just drank out of a cup his snout was never meant to fit into. Oh how we try to get things that are never meant for us! Kim and I have been doing a lot of work on our backyard and behind our fence. Ripping up vines and dead trees and leves and thorns. It's a really rewarding job- you get to instantly see your progress. And for whatever reason, the people who built the fence in our backyard built it 23 feet shorter than our property line. So over the years all that space behind our fence has become overgrown with all kinds of plants and thorns and used as a trash dump. So far we've uncovered the wreckage of a barbed wire fence, bricks, cement pieces, tools, tiles, bottles and cans, trash bags, oil cans, even a speed limit sign! An saince out fence is more rotten than not, Kim and I had been planning to move the fence back about 20 feet. But as I look out on our yard I think about the value of making that space on the other side of the fence into a garden for our community. Instead of annexing the space and adding another 1500 square feet of backyard, what if we cleaned it up and used it to establish a really nice vegetable garden that could be shared with the neighbors? That's be a better use of space and would infuse more love into our community. It seems obvious none, I just can't believe it takes us so long to get to the point of thinking of others. My natural inclination seems to be bent on simply building a bigger kingdom for myself. Lord, teach us and train us to build Your kingdoms instead of our own.

Monday, April 23, 2012


About two months ago Kim and I talked about our church and how there seems to be many people struggling financially in one way or another.  Doing what I do, I instantly began thinking of how we can help our community.  I met with our pastor and another leader in the church to begin brainstorming about this and came up with a 6 week financial course that we will go through.  Through the input of Kim and me and these two leaders, we're going to cover the most important areas of planning, spend much of the time giving practical tips and troubleshooting, and also talk about a change in perspective.

The perspective change may be the most important part.  Essentially, how do we start placing less and less value on stuff and more on people?  How do we transition our hearts from how much should I give, to how much should I keep?  Instead of how much can I afford, how little can I pay?

Anyway, yesterday our pastor announced it to the church to get feedback from anyone who may be interested in participating.  2 people came up after or during church and said something like this:
"I've been praying about financial stuff for 2 months.  This is an answer to prayer!"

2 months?  Really?  From 2 different people?

After years of praying and believing, I still don't know much about how this prayer thing works.  Or how God works.  Or what on earth He is doing...But I would venture a guess that there is something going on here.  And I'm super-excited that we get to be a part of the journey.  Clearly, we're not steering the ship, but it's good to be participating!

I'll end with this quick illustration of how we join in on this journey which Paul used this Sunday:  A father is mowing his lawn and letting his son hang on to the handle of the lawn mower.  Together they are walking behind the mower cutting the grass.  The father is doing all of the work, but what does the kid thing?  "I'm mowing the grass!"  Thank you Father for letting us hang on and be part of Your work.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Finding Our Pace

Have you ever gone running out in the heat and half way through nearly die from exhaustion? It's all about pace isn't it?

Kim and I have been running full out trying to find out where we are supposed to be, what we are to be doing, trying to gain glimpses of God to help us circle up onto the right path...but is it possible that we're out-running God? Have we passed Him up somewhere back there when we began and have taken a path all to our own? Pace matters.

If I am going to run with someone else, we clearly have to be going in the same direction, headed to the same place, on the same path, but if we're not on the same pace, we'll be separated in only a few strides!

After a weekend spent with grandparents moving through life at the speed of a rural, farming, country town, we noticed how much different our pace is compared to theirs. I tend to keep myself more busy than necessary doing things that really don't matter, often missing the things that do matter along the way...

A month ago Kim's grandmother passed away, last week a dear friend's mother passed away, this week it looks like my friend and assistant's father will pass away...

We have an undetermined amount of years on this rock, filled with only so many individual moments in which to do something with. I pray we don't waste them with busyness or by chasing after God when He is waiting for us to return several steps back. I pray that we keep our heads up, aware of the movement of those around us, the beauty of the nice day outside, the struggles of a friend, the laughter and tears of our life long companions.

I pray we do not get caught up in the pursuit of our next car or next promotion or next sale or next weekend or next child. Because under the thin veil of appearance, these things may really be unspoken desires forstatus, power, success, selfishness, control. May we be content. Yet strive for a better world for all of those who have neither power nor wealth, a voice or a future. May we align our pace with a God who moves in ways we often can't see, sing in tune with He who we often can't hear, and through the journey begin to taste the full flavor of the meal, drinking down the full cup of this life.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Why We Are Where We Find Ourselves

6 months in and life is good, yet equally unhinged.  Like a beautiful ornate door laid aside of the doorway, not yet fitted into the hinges that give it meaning, we are here.  Here in Baton Rouge 600 miles away from a previous life, a few inches away from this next one, but we're left unhinged.

Kim and I have been talking constantly about why we're here.  We have no idea.  But in the meantime, we're running head first into as many doors as possible to see which ones are closed and which ones are open.  After a disasterous attempt at having a bunch of people over for our wine tasting Friday, we konw that that door for now is closed.  Clearly, using our home to invite people in in that way is not what we need to do. But what an amazing failure it was!  :)

If anyone is a lover of cheese, please let me know!  We have plenty left to share!

And about the right people?  I have no idea.  Jesus mentioned inviting the poor and the disabled and those who can't possibly ever repay you to your party.  Well, if we talk in these terms, our church may be a good group of people since it sounds like many of them are having a hard time financially.  But i'm sure there are poorer people.  Is this the point though?  That we debate about who the poorest of the poor are and then invite them to the party?  Go and round them up on buses and drop them off at our house?  If so, this is a pretty big ordeal and seems a little nuts.  But what do I know?

I guess I know one thing: Kim and I are going to keep on searching, keep on running straight into failure, into walls, and closed doors, until we begin to understand.  Hopefully it doesn't take too long to find out why we are where we find ourselves.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Missing Invitations

An hour and a half from the start of the party and it looks like very few people are planning on coming. Did we invite the wrong people to the party?

Luke 14:12-24

Who are the poor? Who are the crippled, the lame, the blind? These are the people Jesus tells us to invite. Have we invited the wrong people?

Surely, more thoughts to be continued...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Priority One

Camping Trip or 5K?
Two choices between good and great.  This is when priorities matter.  This is when integrity matters.

Some of you know that Kim and I have been reading through the Harry Potter series (I highly recommend you read them if you haven't yet!  They're great!).  I actually just finished the last one this past week.  By far, this last book was the best.  Not only was the story line unbelievable, but also there were bits of truth and wisdom spread throughout it unlike the others.  One such passage struck me and has had me chewing on it ever since:

"It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well. (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)."

Am I the person who never seeks power?  Or am I the one who seeks it and desires the recognition, the influence, the pride that accompanies it?  Probably the latter. 

Just recently I've felt the temptation towards small amounts of power lingering at the door, with the eagerness and anticipation that it may cross the threshold and begin building a tiny empire in my heart.  Through the conversations with people at work and at church, I feel this temptation to seek leadership and thus power and the downward spiral that it leads.  Yet, the enters community. 

And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:12.

I was debating between running in the 5K in which I had already committed to or bailing on that and doing the men's campout through our church.  And for me, the campout held the ability to continue to foster friendships, influence, leadership, and power.  But power was probably the greatest driver.  So, in my mind, i had chosen to bail on the 5K.  Kim's reaction to me bailing on her and the rest of our running group jostled me to reconsider this thought.  At this point is when I realized that the choice was really between integrity and self-preservation. 

This is another reason why skipping church can sometimes be the most godly thing you can do.  And so, we skipped church Sunday, allowing Kim and I to spend more time on us, and allowing me to cast aside even more fully the allure of whatever temptation power may bring.  It allowed me to recenter on my first priority next to God: Kim.  And when in competition between all other choices or opportunities, Kim wins.

Fat boy 5k, here we come!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chasing after Shadows

One of the interesting and strange things about the daily flow of mine is the amount of unrestrictedly idle time.  I may work very hard for an hour, a day, a week, but inevitably there come times where there is not a thing constructively to do.  Sure, I could cold call people to attempt an introduction, but this never works.  After colding calling 482 people to no avail, it's pretty much a given that it doesn't work. 

Or I could fill my time with idle amusement like one of the zillion apps available or hours upon hours on facebook, but I'm not that guy.  I have to be moving, helping, serving, doing.  Here in lies the problem...the tension of waiting.

I remember part of a story in one of the Narnia books.  It is about a horse that was the most outstanding, strong, switft, intelligent, and charming horses in one land, yet as he approached Narnia, realized his humbleness compared to the far greater horses there.  It is in this moment that Aslan (who plays the fictional character of Jesus) tells the horse to "be content".  You are not the best, You are not the worst.  Be content with the horse you are.

But I want to be the best!  I want to have a more successful business than anyone in my field! 

There is a quote by Tim Kizzier: "Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter." 

What are we chasing after?  What are we toiling to obtain?

May we work hard towards things that matter and be content with ourselves along the way.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Banking on Half-Truths

I have heard several christians over the years use verses out of context throughout scripture in an effort to back up their own actions and beliefs.  In fact, I'd be surprised if I haven't done the exact same thing at some point.  If I do, please challenge me on it!  Otherwise, I'll never learn nor be the wiser.

However, for now, I want to look briefly at this passage (Deuteronomy 15:1-11) ending in verse 11 with: "(t)here will always be poor people in the land. (NIV)"  I have heard this quoted to me probably four times over the past few years.  And in each context the christian was using this verse as an example of why we shouldn't be concerned with the poor.  That they will always be around us, they will always be in need, so even if we give today, tomorrow they'll still have need.  So why bother?

I get that.  I get that because I and definitely the people who have said this, think that I have better uses for my money than to give it to a person who will use it less wisely than I will.  Right.  As if using it to buy food to simply survive is not as wise as any other possible thing you can do with money.

But as much as this poor perspective on reality drives me nuts, it is not the point I want to make.

Instead, let's continue with the next section of the verse in which I have never heard completed or recited by any of these same people who quoted the first half (this says a lot about how we do things.  We get half-truths memorized and locked down; just enough truth to be an outright lie and casting us down a path we shouldn't tread).  "There will always be poor people in the land.  Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land (NIV)."  Or put it another way, "there will always be some Israelites who are poor and in need, and so i command you to be generous to them.(GNT)"

So, instead of using the first half as a scapegoat to not give generously (even in the 7th year when you know you won't receive any of the loan back in return), we must read the entire verse and realize we are commanded to give simply because there is need. 

Moral of the day: Don't bank on half-truths.  Dig a little deeper.

Monday, March 19, 2012

On the Sidelines

I just finished reading the 6th Harry Potter book, the Half-Blood Prince. And it got me thinking about purpose and meaning and doing and being. I can't help but think of how wonderful if would be to be Harry Potter. His purpose was clear, he knew what he had to do, he had great determination to do it, and so he went and accomplished his mission. How I would give anything to be in that position, to have that clarity of purpose and mission and the ability to go out and make it happen!

Which brought me to the question we all constantly wrestle with...what is my purpose, what will I do...which is a problem. Because although there is a very real war going on in the minds and hearts of all of those around us, although there is a good and evil at work right now amongst us, the ending is already decided. Through Jesus, this war is over. The victory has been declared.

Or has it?

My assumption has always been that Jesus has conquered all and that since this is the case, the scales between good and evil, although may not be full tipped in current time, will eventually tip entirely and good will win out. The problem with this assumption is that there is absolutely no purpose in those living between now and then since the end has been decided.

Let's take it from a different point of view... Let's think of evil/Satan/other demons as an evil giant terrorizing and killing constantly the other people on this planet. Clearly, we want to stop that and save as many people as we can. Well, when we go out there and constantly shoot tiny arrows at it that end up doing exceedingly little damage (although you could assume that each arrow does weaken it slightly, even if only a tiny amount). However, in the end, I know that the King will be coming at some point to slay the giant. In this circumstance, what is the point of me standing there through a lifetime and shooting arrows at the giant, knowing tht it will be an exceedingly difficult calling, likely to led to great pain, strife, andispel. If the end is decided, the in-between has no meaning.

Or is it truly without meaning? Is it truly insignificant to stand up against evil? Is it truly a waste to fight a lost battle? Should we simply resign ourselves to live the most comfortable lives possible since all else is of no great value? Should we give up on the poor with the assumption they will always be among us? Should we not stand up for the widow, the orphan, the sick, the abused?

Of course not! Because when we attack the giant, it must turn to us and stop terrorizing others, if even for a moment. And if by distracting the evil one we suddenly simultaneously allow another person to escape, what a great victory we have shared! And thus, what looks, like a life of meaningless effort and strife turns into the greatest life lived.

In fact, let me take this thought further...

When we as Christians are bogged down with concerns of this world (money, consumerism, getting ahead, having enough to eat or to wear or to look better), we are not even in the fight. When we are concerned about financial matters, we are not being attacked, we are recovering on the sidelines, completely separate from the struggle. Therefore, we must rid ourselves of the things that keep us from the fight. And we must storm the gates of hell to wreak as much havoic as possible on evil, hopefully attracting attention to our advances and away from those others who are being attacked. And if after a lifetime of fighting, if we have helped even one life be saved if even indirectly, it would be worth the battle. Wouldn't it truly be a waste-a shame-to have lived life on the sidelines?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Community Financial Restoration

So, recently I have become involved with a community of belivers who from their accounts are all having a difficult time financially.  The reasons are various including job loss, change in job and thus lower income, birth of child and switch to one working spouse from two, can't work due to disability, basic budgetting problems of spending more than earning, and debt burdens.  Clearly, there are many different pieces at play here, but all centered around financial issues.

The benefit of all of this is that we as believers most often turn to God in difficulty and forget Him during good times.  So, our community is focusing in on God.  However, it is also a detriment.  Because each morning the first thought is a financial concern and in the evening, the last thought is likely the same.  This, I assume (which may be a poor assumption), keeps us from effectively living out our faith in Jesus and helping reach the world.  We're too caught up in our own survival to consider the physical, emotional, or spiritual needs of those around us.  Abraham Maslow says that these needs must be met before we can be effective as shown below:

According to Maslow's hierachy of needs, we must satisfy these needs in order:
Physicial (food, water, shelter)
Safety (free from harm)
Belonging (love and acceptance)
Esteem (self-esteem, confidence fueled by others)
Self-actualization (individual effectiviness)

However, we also find people who reach self-actualization in the midst of adversity.  Another psychologist, Viktor Frankl reached this effectiveness while living in the middle of a concentration camp in WWII.  Clearly, he lacked adequate nourishment for his physical, safety, belonging, and esteem needs.  BUT it was likely that his perspective of these needs bipassed the need.  Said another way, he no longer placed importance or value on these other needs and therefore met self-actualization.

Bringing that back to the community...the financial problems are actually a defiicit of all needs physical through esteem.  So, do we as a community seek to fix the financial problem?  Or do we seek to help everyone change the perspective like Viktor Frankl?  Or do we try to do both and see what happens?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Applebee's: the new coffee shop

So, a friend and I were going to meet up at Starbucks but they were packed with no parking available. We decided to go down the road about half a mile to another coffee shop. It turns out that it closed at 3pm. So, we went to a place where no one would be at 3pm...Applebee's. It is a real tragedy that's Applebee's is the third string coffee shop here. Whatever happened to the Coffee shop on every corner, on every street, ever few blocks?

Oh. That was Nashville.

Well, bring on snowball season! I pref to have a snowball stand on every street anyway. Snowballs always taste better than the best coffee. That's been imperically proven through a double blind study.

So, beyond the ramblings of the first part of this entry I do have something to say. It will have to wait though. My friend just arrived.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pressing Pause

Sitting in my car waiting for a meeting...I am here early today because I have nothing else to do right now. The past few days have been a flurry of meetings and wonderful opportunities to serve others. Today's calendar: the lone lunch meeting. Not that I haven't attempted to work hard, it just has ended up that today is really light. Thank God!

It's not that I don't like being busy. Being busy means I meet more people, add more value to them, fulfill my purpose in life, provide for Kim and me as well as those whom we support, but it's good to take a pause whether intentionally or not. It's hard to see the beauty of God's blessings when we're right amidst them. It often isn't until we step back that we see the big picture and are astounded.

Don't let me fool you right now- I'm sitting in a car wondering why it is so hot so early in the year. I'm not in some nervanna state of mind, reaching enlightenment. I just think it is wonderful how God provides us with a life that is full of diversity. And today's change up is the fact that I have one meeting.

I hope and pray that I don't try to make my one meeting more than what it is. It is one meeting, not three. Let's not try and force a usual day's work out of one meeting. Instead, I pray that I love well, listen well, and add vaue in whatever way I can. That'll be a meeting- a day- worth living.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Keeping Watch

It's hard to live each moment of each day as if it matters, with a constant anticipation of the coming of something great...or dreadful. The sheer mundane every day routine is sure to dull even the sharpest excitement. Yet we are called to be watchful (Matthew 24-26), to be ready when Christ returns. And according to Matthew 25:1-13, it seems the consequences of not paying attention are huge!

So what does this mean to be watchful? To be ready? Well, there are a few hints what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean be lazy, nor unjust, nor "caught" doing the things that the Master would not condone. It means taking care of hit hat which is entrusted to us. From these passages Jesus mentions finances or relationships, or family in his parables but I almost think that they are more like analogies of something else. I can't quite put my finger on it. But he talks about taking care of it in a serious way and growing it not just holding on and keeping it safe, but exposing it to risk and seeking a return on it.

Yet to be watchful too.

Jesus, what on earth (or heaven!) are You talking about?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


When you move your family, home, and work 600 miles you get the feeling that you've been reborn. You get to start anew, afresh, and enjoy skull ting a new story. You build new friendships and new community, you get to see the world from a new perspective. You start to develop a new routine, new habits, a new life.

Since this is where I find myself, I have realized how important it is to have principles and values to carry me through the rebuilding process. We're at a wonderful time to make things new, but if we're not careful we'll let the environment around us create the edges of our foundation. And once the cement has dried, it'll be much more difficult to reset and try again.

Three months of transition had let my values slip from my mind such that I forgot to love the person in front of me. It's not that I broke into some sort of sinning rampage, but simply that I lost focus on why matters. I fell when under very little pressure.

I had 4 back to back meetings in Lafayette and focused in on financial planning versus helping people. In the first meeting I met a guy whose main goal in life is to have enough money now and in retirement to afford to go to strip clubs as often as he wants and fund a lifestyle...not worth repeating. And upon hearing this, I simply processed what he would need to do financially to make that happen. Kind of...actually I was pretty thrown off because I had never met someone with this low of morals or dreams and desires. However, a siren should have been going off in my head that this guy doesn't need financial help, he needs Jesus!

For the next week I kept chewing on this meeting in my brain trying to figure out what to do. I ended up posting my values on the wall and calling him to share how mine don't add up to his and we really shouldn't work together. I still don't know exactly how I should have handled that situation, but I am adamant that my values should play a bigger role.

Which brings us to Sunday.

Kim an I have found a church home here and are excited about what's going on. This Sunday, the pastor spoke about the 5 steps to fall, referencing Peter through each point. It was helpful to me after considering this scenario I just described.
1. Confidence in self instead of God's word (financial planning confidence for me)
2. Spiritual apathy: sleeping instead of praying and keeping watch (I should go into each meeting after praying through it)
3. Acting on my will instead of God's (I was trying to bring on new clients, I hadn't even considered God's will)
4. Following Jesus at a distance (trying to tip toe as a Christian until I get settled here. Afraid of how people will react and then not knowing how I should react)
5. Sitting with the enemy (trying to make a friend out of someone I really should never have as a friend)

I, like most of us, would like to think I have learned this for the last time. History has a way of repeating in a different color and different dance. When that happens, may you and I stick to our values and let those frame our thoughts and out actions.