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Ambition Fueled by God

One of my favorite authors of all time, Zig Ziglar, says, “ambition, fueled by compassion, wisdom, and integrity, is a powerful force for good. It will turn the wheels of industry and open the door of opportunity for you and countless thousands of other people. But fueled by greed and the lust for power, ambition is a destructive force that ultimately does irreparable damage to the individual in its grasp and to the people within its reach.”

Why do we want that promotion or raise? Do we want the added authority or income for greedy ambition or is our motivation truly for good ambition?

Where does such compassion, wisdom, and integrity come from? For me it comes from following Jesus.

The bible teaches us that whatever work we set out to do to do it as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23-24). It also teaches us not to be greedy and power hungry (Pilippians 2:3) and that we can’t serve both God and money at the same time (Matthew 6:24).

Any work we do might be because we need money. But it doesn’t have to be fueled by that. If we’re truly doing it as unto the Lord then it can be fueled by compassion, wisdom, and integrity while simultaneously providing income. But if it is fueled by money alone it can lead to greed and power struggle which leads to the destruction mentioned earlier.

So one lesson in this is to remind ourselves to constantly consider – how do we keep the proper perspective in whatever we’re doing to make sure our posture is that we’re doing it as unto the Lord rather than as unto selfish desires?

Sometimes we hate the work we’re doing and this can be a good reminding word of encouragement that we’re not doing it for our happiness. We’re doing it in pursuit of Gods holiness and His purpose for our lives. When we truly do that and believe God to guide our direction we can be used in unexpected ways or even see unexpected opportunities come our way. Open your eyes to see how God uses you right where you’re at. How can you do that well one day at a time, starting today?

A New Ministry Opportunity

If you’ve read much of anything on here before you know by now that I’m very much in to Christian ministry.  I committed my life to Jesus at an early age while growing up as a preachers kid, and I’ve been involved in ministry in various capacities ever since.  Doing ministry is just part of who I am.  I even wrote a little bit about the book “God at Work” that means so much to me because it explained this drive inside me to do work for God in any or many vocations.

Since 2008, I’ve been involved with the financial coaching ministry at my home church, and during that time I had the opportunity to help start a business that teaches biblical personal finance.  I also wrote a little e-book “God Centered Finances” about a balanced perspective on Biblical personal finance.  All of that came about as part of the journey with my (and my wife – we are one) own financial struggle that I’ve learned so much from and love to share with others.  There are other topics and experiences I feel burdened to address for the purpose of ministry too, like marriage and leadership, but the burden to minister about financial stewardship continues to be where I believe God uses me the most.

The newest chapter of the ministry journey is an opportunity to join the Clayton King Ministries (CKM) speaker team.  It is such an honor to have an opportunity to do ministry with this amazing group I’ve grown to know and love.  I certainly do not feel worthy, but I am definitely more than willing.  That is all God needs.  With willingness He can use anything for His divine purpose.

The reason for sharing this update is to ask for your prayers as I seek to serve the Lord well in these next steps of ministry.  God is good, and the best is yet to come.

The Ashley Madison Debacle

It seems the latest media topic to captivate everyone’s attention is the scandalous hacking and revealing of data that shames everyone who has ever used the cheating site – Ashley Madison.  It’s been a while since I’ve written about sexual immorality on here so I’m gonna weigh in on this.

Before I get too far I should make the disclaimer that I’ve only read a few articles on the debacle, and that’s all it takes to get the point.  I don’t need to know every detail about it to say what’s on my mind, but I believe that someone is gonna get something they need to out of what I feel like I need to say.

I haven’t even read many articles and I can already predict the tone.  Without a doubt the following two songs being sung loud and proud.

1- Damn all those sick detestable perverts who deserve the worst punishment.

2- Gracefully forgive all those people who in their human weakness made mistakes.

TWO EXTREMES!

I refuse to accept either extreme because in my opinion one is too strong and the other too weak.  One is a position of condemnation and the other is a position of passive permission.  I’m sick and tired of crap like this happening and everyone having to either choose an extreme or remain silent – because our so called progressive and increasingly tolerant culture is really just increasingly polarized.  But that’s another subject.  On to the points of this post.

To the one extreme – I absolutely agree this is a despicable situation.  But I also agree with the other extreme – we should show grace and forgiveness because we’re all imperfect and all sin is equal in Gods eyes.

To the one extreme – I agree there will absolutely be judgement.  But I also agree with the other extreme that the judgement is not ours to make and we should pray repentance and forgiveness for the offenders in this situation.

Here’s what I believe both extremes want the other to acknowledge underneath all the stupid shouting:  Regardless of how much we forgive there are still consequences for our actions, and in order to forgive as God commands casting condemnation should not be one of the consequences.

Families are in turmoil.  People are being very publicly humiliated and shamed – something none of us ever want to happen with some of our own failures.  The damage this whole debacle is doing is massive, and I feel terrible for all the lives being wrecked.  But I still believe good can come from it regardless of whether we ever really know it.

The bottom line we should all take away from this:  No sin is done without harm to self and others.  No matter how secret a sin might seem it will eventually be brought to light. It’s best for us all to simply focus on pursuing righteousness in our own lives while encouraging others to do the same.

Rejoicing

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Natural inclinations – weak, short sighted, selfish, human. In moments when situations and circumstances are great we rejoice, and maybe give some credit where it’s due (thanks to God). In seasons of difficulty, when the proverbial poop is hitting the fan, we tend to be angry, confused, and fearful.

Emotion clouds our judgement and leads to thoughts and actions that are far from the rejoicing we’re taught about in 1 Thessalonians. It isn’t unreasonable to believe that the further we are from rejoicing the further we are from God’s will.

As I reflect on the circumstances of the difficult season my family has been through recently I realize the fruit of going against the natural inclination, the fruit of rejoicing instead of worrying, questioning, or being frustrated. We’ve experienced an outpouring of support spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially. God has worked through everyone around us to prove faithful to His promises to never leave us and never forsake us, to be our source of strength, and to provide our every need. For all those things we are humbly and overwhelmingly grateful.

None of those things are the fruit of rejoicing though. What if we didn’t experience all those wonderful things, or if none of it happened in our expectation of time, or if we didn’t have the wisdom to recognize or acknowledge them when they happened? Would we rejoice anyway? The fruit of rejoicing is not what we’re getting or experiencing when things are good, and it’s not whatever we’re hoping to eventually have or experience when things are bad. The fruit of rejoicing is… Joy. Do you have it?

Life Is Too Short

Life is too short for lots of things, and lately I’m overwhelmed with that reality.  There’s always something worse to imagine going through than what we’re currently experiencing, and those thoughts might help us cope, but when we’re going through anything tough it can be a harsh reminder to do more…living.

March 26th is normally a wonderful day of celebration for my wife’s, Shawna, birthday.  But this March 26th will forever be marked as the date we lost a very close loved one – our brother (in-law), David Butts.  We are crushed with devastation, and our hearts ache deeply for our sister, Lenae, and their three boys, Gauge, Gavin, & Garen.  No matter how hard we try to love on them and no matter how bad we want to ease their pain, there is nothing we can do to bring David back or replace his love and relationship in their lives.

So many thoughts cross our minds as we think back on our time with David.  We should have ____ more.  The list of things to fill that blank with is endless, and the list of people we could try to fill the blank with is endless.  But life is also too short to try filling that blank with too many things, and it is definitely too short for trying to fill that blank with the wrong people.

As I reflected on that life truth in the days following David’s passing, I thought and prayed that I would live life to the fullest, that I would pursue God’s plan for me – for every relationship, moment, decision.  I live with the attitude that there is always room for improvement, for becoming – whatever we’re becoming.  (I even eluded to that in my talk at David’s memorial service because I believe David was living that way too, whether he knew it or not.)

One area of life I’ve struggled with for years is career.  I’ve known for quite some time that something needs to change.  I’ve felt a calling to something more.  I’ve had opportunities to do things that have helped me develop many skills and qualities.  But I’ve failed to make any significant changes in career path – mostly due to fear of financial failure.  Having these thoughts after our devastating loss I became full of determination to make my existing path look brighter or find another path,  I literally put on my to-do list, “plan talking points for (boss name) – something has to change”.

Before I even got a chance to schedule that conversation, and only a week after the devastating phone call about David’s death, I received another devastating phone call.  It was the boss letting me know that his company, that I’ve loyally served for 11 years, is going out of business.  This came as a complete shock to me because as far as I knew everything was going ok – not great but better than average so far this year for me and for the company too, so I thought.  It doesn’t matter though – the company is closing regardless of the reason, and I am left looking for a job.

Timing can seem crazy, but I believe it’s God’s plan.  Losing my job 8 days earlier might have freaked me out, but that perspective is different when receiving the news on the heals of losing a brother.  Don’t get me wrong – it sucks.  It’s like being kicked while you’re down, but I keep it in perspective by reminding myself it is nothing compared to living in a country where real threats exist – like lions or drug lords.

Apparently, God’s plan is not to stay on the path I was on or to try and fix something that was obviously broken – more than I even realized.  The question now is what exactly is the plan.  I’m completely open and willing to do anything.  Of course, there are certain things that might make more sense than other things but since when did everything God plans for us make sense to us?  No – I’m not limiting my options only to what makes sense.

I’m talking to anyone and everyone.  I’m open to anything.  It’s not all about how much money I can make, but I don’t want to be taken advantage of either.  It’s not all about working for the best company, but I don’t want to be with a losing organization either.  When it’s all said and done I want to be somewhere I feel challenged to continue growing personally, somewhere that wants more out of my qualities than the dollars I can produce, somewhere the people are valued, respected, and trusted, somewhere relationships are genuine and professional, and somewhere family and friends relationships are valued and encouraged.

When I say I’m talking to anyone, I do mean anyone.  I could do pretty much anything.  I’ve done corporate, small business, and ministry work.  I’ve worked in manufacturing process and supply chain management.  I’ve done print industry sales and account management.  I’ve taught and done public speaking.  I’ve overseen web projects, social presence, and other marketing.  I’ve done writing projects.  I’ve lead and managed and participated in team building.  I’ve done finances, forecasting, and strategy.  I love learning, and I love to be challenged.

So, I’m not limiting myself to one particular industry or ministry.  I’m looking for professional challenge, personal growth, and great relationships.  If there’s one thing I have learned from my brother David, it is that life is too short for anything less than…living.

Everyone Is a Leader

In basically every corner of culture there’s talk of ‘leadership’ this and ‘leader’ that, which can be a good or bad thing depending on the context, motives, and attitude.  I think I’ve hinted around my thoughts about ‘leadership’ on here before, but in this post I want to make one thing perfectly clear.  EVERYONE is a leader.

We’ve all heard some form of the phrase “the life he/she is leading”.  There you go – we’re all LEADING a life.  In my opinion the greatest authority on the subject of leadership is John C. Maxwell.  He says that the most difficult person to lead is yourself.  That principle makes all of us a leader of at least one – self.

The greatest lesson my parents taught me about leadership is “lead by example”.  They took every opportunity they got to tell me, “remember who you are”, and, “lead by example”.  I always took that from them to mean, “follow God’s word and be who he’s prompting you to be; and follow the example we’ve set for you, and set that example for others no matter what others are doing”.   My parents aren’t perfect, but they’re darn good people.  I feel the same way about my wife’s parents.  Of course we have our differences from our parents, but generally speaking they are some amazing examples to follow.

If you’re a terrible leader of yourself it doesn’t matter what your position is, who you know, who else is following you, what you know, or what you’re doing.  People might be following what you’re doing regardless of whether or not they truly know you, but your leadership is limited to how much people trust that the image you portray is truly the example you live for those who do really know you.  I pray every single day for wisdom and discernment with that trust, and that I steward well any trust others have in me.

Everyone has a self to lead, and how well we lead that self is the greatest indicator of our strength (aka character) as a leader (aka person).  Are you an example worth following?

 

Deflated Balls & Church Nonsense

deflated balls

The major question dominating sports world at the moment is, “Did the New England Patriots deflate their balls”?  First of all – Eww!  Second of all – who gives a rip?

Ok – so maybe deflated balls give you some sort of advantage in some way on the field.  I played ball enough to know there’s only a few instances where it matters if the ball is a little softer, and I can’t imagine how it’s a game changer in most of those instances.  But ok – there are rules.  For every normal person upset about this I have one question – will it prevent you from watching the Super Bowl?  I sense the answer is a resounding “NO”.

Here’s the thing – we’re crazy about the Super Bowl.  Of course, we want to see our team in it, but the fact of the matter is we don’t care who is in it – we’re still gonna watch.  It’s a great night for anyone who can appreciate the game and for the rest who just watch for the commercials and will eventually appreciate the game if they keep watching.  I could care less if Tom Brady was in on it – he’s always been a too much of a pretty boy to me anyway.  I’ll be watching the Super Bowl.

This whole discussion reminds me a little bit of drama my pastor is going through lately. You might have heard of him – he’s the guy under a lot of fire right now for “changing” the 10 commandments.  He’s Perry Noble.

I don’t “know” him on a personal level.  I think he might just maybe know me by name if he saw me in public, but that’s only because of mutual friends and 11 yrs of faithful attendance.  But I still call him pastor.

I don’t “know” his heart beyond what I see from a distance on a stage, but I do believe there is good in him beyond what he gets credit for in situations like he’s in right now.

I’ll be among the first to say the man isn’t perfect.  There are times I want to stand up in church and say “shut up Perry – you ain’t as tough as you think you are” or “think about what you’re saying” – you know, in those times when he comes across very arrogant.  But that would be incredibly inappropriate in church, wouldn’t help anything, would misrepresent my own character (as if some people aren’t reading this and judging me anyway), and ultimately would do nothing to advance the kingdom.  Perry isn’t perfect.  Shocker!  None of us are.  But I can’t say I’ve ever disagreed with the biblical basis of messages I believe Perry is trying to teach regardless of whatever attitude he sometimes clouds it with.

The whole scandal of the 10 commandments message is another one of those cases, and it’s being blown way out of proportion – IMHO (in my humble opinion for you acronym-less peeps).  I was in that service and I thought it was a fantastic way of presenting the 10 commandments as promises to those who need hope rather than a checklist for those who think they’re keeping all 10 of them.  So he mistakenly stated there is no such thing as the word “commandment” in the original translation.  Who really cares, and why?  That’s a detail.  He apologized like a real man – accept that and move on.  The point of the message was this – Don’t let your inability to keep “10 commandments” keep you from walking into a relationship with Jesus, because quite frankly none of us can keep those commandments – Instead think of them as promises, which might be a better translation of the original text anyway.  It was a great message – I left feeling very encouraged in my own walk with Christ.

Put on top of that the whole “N” word nonsense (don’t get me started) and goodness gracious Perry has taken a real beating lately.  You might say his balls are deflated.  You might even say it’s discouraging and makes you not even want to go to church.  My question would be this.  If something stupid like deflated balls doesn’t stop you from watching football why would it stop you from going to church?

Skip the super bowl of church (NewSpring) if you want (I personally sometimes find the hype of all the “branding” a bit distasteful too), but don’t skip out on church just because you don’t like a player.  Find somewhere to do regular season church.

Standing Up to Bullies

It seems bullying is getting a lot of attention these days. We’ve experienced it a little with our kids. The whole idea of bullying wasn’t getting so much attention wayyy back when I was a youngster, but it’s not like bullying is a new thing.

I think the biggest problem is kids aren’t being taught to stand up for what is right. We’re teaching our kids tolerance of everything and then wondering why no one stands up to the bullies of the world. We model for our kids an unwillingness to stand up for ourselves or someone else because of the fear of what our actions might cost us.

The root of this problem, and many other problems in life, is selfishness. The bully is a selfish person, obviously, and I don’t want to get in to all the possible reasons why.  The bottom line is bullies, and lots of other types of narcissist behaviors, all boil down to being selfish.

But isn’t it just as selfish to be aware of bullying and fail to address it? The right thing to do would be to try and stop the bullying. But we’re more concerned about what doing the right thing might cost us than we are about doing the right thing. We’re willing to sacrifice a lifetime of building the character and integrity it takes to do the right thing more than we are willing to sacrifice whatever temporary consequences another person can inflict upon us. This self-preserving mentality is passed on to our kids and they either get bullied or ignore someone else getting bullied, so bullying continues.

There’s a saying, “Nice guys finish last”, and I believe the reason that proves true is because there aren’t enough generally good and nice people willing to stand up for what is right and get back up when a bully knocks them down. What do we have to be afraid of? I’d rather die a torturous death and still have some character and integrity intact than watch bullies beat everyone down my whole life and do nothing about it.

I hope I’m teaching my kids to do what is right no matter the cost.

Keeping It Real Update

Quite some time ago I promised to keep it real on here, and I think I’ve done so to some extent, but it’s time for a big time transparent update because I believe that’s what God wants me to do right now.

If you’ve read our story (either in previous posts on this blog or in the e-book) then you know what my biggest struggle has been for quite some time – I live pretty anxious about finances.  Crazy I know – coming from a guy who has been unbelievably blessed and helps other people get on track.  But none of that means I am perfect or don’t experience setbacks that challenge my faith.

I could write a 5000 word report about all the reasons I’m feeling more pressure right now (business is wildly unpredictable, etc).  But there’s really no good point to make there – that’s life.  The lesson I’m learning (or being reminded of) is, that regardless of how bad financial circumstances get, God is still good and He will provide.  Being overly-stressed about things doesn’t change that, and trying to carry that burden on my own takes away from the glory God gets when we keep our faith in Him.

So I’ve been surrendering all this to God and sharing it with others every chance I get.  The money situation is tighter than it’s been in years and it does stress me out.  At times I believe it is a spiritual attack trying to prevent us from fulfilling a giving commitment we felt lead to make.  Just as there’s a God that loves us there’s an enemy that wants to destroy us.

Regardless of why things aren’t easy right now, my family and I will steward what we’ve been blessed with and keep our commitments.  Whatever the results, we’re keeping our focus on God and our faith in His promises.  So pray for us please.

New – Meal Plan Sheet

For most people grocery shopping is not an activity we look forward to doing – especially when it requires sticking to a budget.  Most of us are usually too tired or busy to have to worry about what we’re going to cook.  We end up eating out more than we should, which is unhealthy, and spending more than we should, which is bad for the bank account.

In financial coaching we have found ourselves telling people over and over again about the Meal Plan Sheet (click to download) we use, but no one is ever able to find them.  It is hilarious how many people have come back to us and told their story of searching high and low everywhere for the meal plan sheets we told them about.  Well search no more – there it is!

Here’s why we love meal planning…  Each week we sit down with this sheet on Sunday’s and plan out meals for the whole week.  Having that plan prevents us from having to worry every day about “what’s for dinner.”  When anyone asks “what’s for dinner” they are pointed to the meal plan on the side of the refrigerator, and then they’re asked to help get started preparing it.

Having meals all planned out helps us fight the urge to eat out too.  But most importantly it helps us control our spending at the grocery store.  We’re much more likely to stick to the shopping list when we have a meal plan, and much less likely to stock up on things “just in case” when we have a detailed plan.

Now go print a bunch of them out and get started planning your meals from now on!